Cinema Review: So Undercover

DIR: Tom Vaughan • WRI: Steven Pearl, Allan Loeb • PRO: Tish Cyrus, Guy East,  Allan Loeb, Steven Pearl, Nigel Sinclair • DOP: Denis Lenoir • ED: Michael Berenbaum, Wendy Greene Bricmont • DES: Daniel B. Clancy • CAST: Miley Cyrus, Autumn Reeser, Alexis Knapp, Joshua Bowman

Tom Vaughan (Starter for 10, What Happens in Vegas) is at the helm for this, the new film for Hannah Montana star Miley Cyrus.


Having lost her mother at an early age Molly (Miley Cyrus) was raised by her police officer father, Sam (Mike O’Malley). By age eleven she had become adept with a firearm and when her father was kicked off the force due to his gambling addiction she joined him in his private eye business. Now in her late teens Molly is a formidable detective although she and her father mostly get jobs investigating and photographing unfaithful spouses, be they senators or truck drivers. It is on one such assignment that Molly is approached by FBI agent Armon (Jeremy Piven). Alex (Lauren McKnight) is the daughter of a key witness in a federal case against an Eastern European Crime syndicate and she is in possession of a ‘bargaining chip’ given to her by her father. As a result she is in danger of being assassinated to get to her father and the FBI wants Molly to infiltrate her sorority to identify the potential killer and protect Alex, and the information she is holding. After her father loses big at the race track Molly reluctantly accepts the job for a substantial fee. She is transformed into Brooke Stonebridge, a transfer student from Hawaii. Roomed with Becky (Kelly Osbourne) she must survive the catty world of college, all the while trying to uncover the plot against her ward.


The question that quickly rears its puzzling head when watching this film is ‘Who is the intended audience?’. With relatively strong language, adult themes such as gambling addiction and regular sexual references it is obviously not aimed at Cyrus’  usual fan base. Then again with little plot beyond the usual tough-girl-fish-out-of-water comedy there is not much on offer for the general viewing public either. The tired stereotypes of the sorority girls offer little in the way of humour. There is the two-faced head of the chapter with her secret past as a geek, the dumb blonde who is a chemistry major, the overtly religious good girl with lesbian inclinations and of course the rampant bulimia. Cyrus herself is unbelievable as both a tough private eye and a ditzy sorority girl. Her romance with possible hit man Nicholas (Joshua Bowman) feels tacked on. There is an attempt at a twist in the story in the third act but by that point the original plot of FBI investigation has been set aside and is mostly forgotten. Even Piven, normally worth a few laughs in any of his roles, is sadly without virtue until the outtakes shown during the end credits.


Banal, trite and lacking in originality, it is hardly surprising that rumours abound of So Undercover being released straight-to-video in America.

Paddy Delaney

Rated 12A (see IFCO website for details)

So Undercover is released on 7th December 2012


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