So Undercover should’ve been worse than it actually was. As a Miley Cyrus-starring vehicle, it is utterly laughable that she would play somebody working with the FBI, but at the same time, when you do learn the twist, it at least makes sense. Although it does heavily borrow from Miss Congeniality there’s enough story and jokes which land that will keep your attention for the 90-minute duration.
Genre(s): Comedy, Crime
Millennium Entertainment | PG13 – 94 min. – $29.99 | February 5, 2013
Directed by: Tom Vaughan
Writer(s): Allan Loeb & Steven Pearl (written by)
Cast: Miley Cyrus, Jeremy Piven, Mike O’Malley, Josh Bowman, Kelly Osbourne, Eloise Mumford, Megan Park, Lauren McKnight, Autumn Reeser, Matthew Settle
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (Dolby TrueHD 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.40
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Disc Size: 20.0 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
THE MOVIE – 2.5/5
Miley Cyrus plays a private investigator.
I’ll stop and allow you to laugh.
Miley Cyrus plays a private investigator contacted by an FBI agent to go undercover.
Again, pause for laughter.
Yeah, not only is the premise laughable (but ultimately makes sense), but the writers felt the need to “borrow” heavily from the Sandra Bullock crime-comedy, Miss Congeniality. Basically, So Undercover takes that story makes the lead younger and instead of a pageant house, transports her to a sorority house. Insert dumb blonde/dumb anything jokes here.
Having said and whaled against the movie as I have, I can honestly say… it wasn’t terrible. No, it’s not that good but it at least wasn’t overly predictable, outside of the first 20-minutes or so, it was somewhat entertaining and Cyrus herself wasn’t that annoying. Yes studio, you may place that quote on the box…
The story centers on Molly (MILEY CYRUS), a P.I. working for her single father (MIKE O’MALLEY, “Glee”) and she’s not too shabby at her job as she’s been at it since she was 11. When the film opens, she’s tailing a Senator who is having an illicit affair (aren’t they all?) but must get photographic proof and it’s shown she will do whatever it takes to get that pic. After getting caught, and a brief chase to the hotel rooftop, we get a zany opening sequence with a cover of “One Way or Another”, a staple song for any movie about a female investigator.
We next find Molly at a truck stop restaurant tailing her latest job when she’s approached by FBI Agent Arnon (JEREMY PIVEN) with a better, more lucrative offer: to infiltrate a sorority house and keep tabs on a bookmaker’s daughter who may be used as leverage to keep her father from testifying against the mob (and she also may have some important info to use as leverage). Initially Molly declines but upon learning her gambling-addicted father is in debt to the tune of $17k, she agrees to do the job. As to why the FBI would approach a young woman, whose only experience is chasing after cheating husbands, is beyond me and the explanation provided by Arnon didn’t cut it. But, again, we are talking about a Miley Cyrus movie.
Molly transfers in to the sorority house and begins scoping the possible suspects who might want to do harm to the target, Alex (LAUREN MCKINNEY). The girls in the house include Sasha (ELOISE MUMFORD), Cotton (MEGAN PARK), Hunter (MORGAN CALHOUN), Taylor (ALEXIS KNAPP), Bizzy (AUTUMN REESER) and Molly’s roommate, Becky (KELLY OSBOURNE); each one has their own bland, stereotypical personality but try as I might, I can’t remember nor really care what they are…
At the sorority house, she tries to glean information from each sister, trying to discover who might be the mole but the more she investigates, she finds out Alex herself has secrets that involves a Professor Talloway (MATTHEW SETTLE) who, doing a background check, doesn’t seem to really exist.
She also meets love interest Nicholas (JOSHUA BOWMAN) as the sparks immediately fly though given past relationships, she’s at first resistant to get involved. Can these two kids find it in each other to discover true love? Can she trust him or will doubt slowly creep in? Yeah, it really doesn’t matter.
Alright, first things first: So Undercover is not a very good movie, that’s easy to say. However, given it is a Miley Cyrus vehicle and how often she and her characters are grating on the ears, I can honestly say it also was not a terrible flick either. It goes without saying, if you didn’t like Cyrus before, this movie will not change your opinion. That said, there is some mild entertainment value and after the first 20-minutes (which are tough to get through), some of the jokes to land and there’s at least some effective twists to at least keep the audience guessing… However, if you’ve seen Miss Congeniality, save for one twist, it’s nearly a carbon copy, just with a younger cast.
Casting wise, outside of Cyrus, they’re most successful. While it is perplexing and really strange to see someone of Jeremy Piven’s stature co-star with Cyrus in what is ultimately a direct-to-video, he’s one of the reasons the movie is worth watching even if he only appears for maybe around 25-minutes. The others, including an unrecognizable Kelly Osbourne (though I haven’t kept up with her “career”), are fine in 1-dimensional character role fillers.
So Undercover was directed by Tom Vaughan who directed the Ashton Kutcher/Cameron Diaz romantic misadventure What Happens in Vegas, does a decent job keeping the mystery going and not tipping his hand as to the true culprit (see Love Me for the opposite); stylistically it’s nothing to marvel but the pacing is well done and he manages to keep focus and avoid many pratfalls. On the more interesting end of the scope, the movie was co-written by Allan Loeb whose career has been… intriguing with a debut writing melodramatic Things We Lost in the Fire followed by many unfunny duds like The Switch, The Dilemma, Just Go With It (awful movie) and the Broadway theatrical adaptation, Rock of Ages.
In the end, So Undercover should’ve been worse than it actually was. As a Miley Cyrus-starring vehicle, it is utterly laughable that she would play somebody working with the FBI, but at the same time, when you do learn the twist, it at least makes sense. Although it does heavily borrow from Miss Congeniality – a flick I don’t mind admitting to enjoying – there’s enough story and jokes which land that will keep your attention for the 90-minute duration. Of course, if don’t like Miley Cyrus, I highly doubt this will change your mind.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 0/5
This release comes with a matted slip cover. Unfortunately, outside of a couple previews, there are no features on this disc.
VIDEO – 4.25/5
So Undercover is presented with a clean looking 1080p high-definition transfer. The movie, shown with a 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio, is what one would expect from a modestly budgeted film: crisp and clean throughout. The detail levels are nice and the color array looks well balanced. This isn’t a movie that’s really going to pop off the screen or anything but it’s more than suitable for the home viewing audience
AUDIO – 4.0/5
The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track offered isn’t entirely noteworthy but it is effective enough. Dialogue levels sound good with some nice clarity throughout and the variety of pop/”rock” songs strewn shows off the surrounds. When there are action scenes, they’re not dynamic as compared with other lossless tracks but, again, it’s satisfying enough given the material.
OVERALL – 2.0/5
Overall, So Undercover should’ve been worse than it actually was. As a Miley Cyrus-starring vehicle, it is utterly laughable that she would play somebody working with the FBI, but at the same time, when you do learn the twist, it at least makes sense. Although it does heavily borrow from Miss Congeniality there’s enough story and jokes which land that will keep your attention for the 90-minute duration.