Disney's June '09 Releases
Jonas Brothers: The Concert Experience (July 18/09)
As was the case with its predecessor, Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert, Jonas Brothers: The Concert Experience has clearly been designed to appeal almost exclusively to fans of the eponymous siblings - as the film boasts a preaching-to-the-converted vibe that effectively holds newcomers at arm's length throughout. As expected, Jonas Brothers: The Concert Experience primarily documents Joe, Nick, and Kevin's summer tour of 2008 and features performances of such radio-friendly ditties as "Burnin' Up," "BB Good," and "Hold On" - with the trio effectively offering up an innocuous mix of bubblegum pop and power ballads (although, ironically enough, Taylor Swift's performance of "Should've Said No" ranks as the movie's most stirring musical interlude). The film also contains a behind-the-scenes peek into the Jonas' offstage antics, as director Bruce Hendricks follows the siblings through their encounters with fans and their ongoing efforts at promoting their latest release - yet the proliferation of staged sequences (ie the boys' run-in with a star-struck waitress [actually an actress]) effectively drains the majority of such moments of their entertainment value (ie if they're not real, what's the point?) It subsequently goes without saying that only the segment detailing the intense fanaticism of the band's die-hard followers manages to make any kind of an impact, with the remainder of the movie generally as slick and prefabricated as the band itself (ie there's not even a hint of spontaneity to be found anywhere within the proceedings). All in all, Jonas Brothers: The Concert Experience comes off as a relatively painless endeavor that will undoubtedly thrill and delight the siblings' many devotees (while leaving neophytes wondering just what all the fuss is about).
Princess Protection Program (July 19/09)
It's not surprising to note that Princess Protection Program is ultimately as silly and relentlessly lightweight as its myriad of made-for-The-Disney-Channel brethren, with the film's unapologetically dumbed-down sensibilities undoubtedly ensuring that younger fans of stars Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato will walk away satisfied. The movie follows Lovato's Princess Rosalinda as she's whisked into hiding after her safety is threatened by a ruthless dictator (Johnny Ray's Magnus Kane), with her participation in the title program ultimately landing her in rural Louisiana - where she adopts the name Rosie, moves in with Gomez's Carter Mason, and attempts to blend into the scenery at a local high school. It's a high-concept premise that's employed to relentlessly innocuous effect by Annie DeYoung, as the screenwriter effectively squanders the inherent possibilities of the fish-out-of-water setup and instead places a consistent emphasis on eye-rolling melodramatic encounters and interludes (ie Rosie is humiliated in the cafeteria by a bitchy fellow student, Carter pines for a popular boy at school, etc). The pervasively conventional atmosphere - ie a trying-on-clothes montage! - slowly but surely renders the movie's few positive elements moot, with the almost uniformly charming performances and Allison Liddi's sporadically (and surprisingly) cinematic directorial choices the most obvious victims of DeYoung's hopelessly bland modus operandi. And while Princess Protection Program admittedly does fare slightly better than some of The Disney Channel's other endeavors - ie it's not completely boring, which is just about the best one can hope for - the aggressive manner with which the film has been geared towards children ensures that older viewers will find little worth embracing here.