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So Undercover

So Undercover

Released 7 December 2012
Director Tom Vaughan

Miley Cyrus, Alexis Knapp, Joshua Bowman, Autumn Reeser, Jeremy Piven
Writer(s) Allan Loeb, Steven Pearl

Tobin Armbrust, Tish Cyrus, Guy East, Allan Loeb, Steven Pearl, Nigel Sinclair
Origin United States
Running Time 94 minutes
Genre Action, comedy
Rating 12A


For those of you who know her tirelessly brave and often controversial portrayal of the double life leading Laura Palmer-esque Southern Disney pop princess Hannah Montana, a word of warning.... this isn't the kind of deftly plotted, hard hitting crime-thriller you might expect Miley Cyrus to deliver.

But while the late Sidney Lumet's ghostly hand may not have blessed So Undercover's taut-thriller aspirations, its teen target audience is unlikely to complain. Instead they may even like the story of affable private eye Molly who in order to repay her hapless father's gambling debt takes the unenviable role of a sorority student at the FBI's behest. She's at Cappa-Delta-Whatever to weed out an as yet unknown hitperson posing as a regular student and protect a Russian mob come government informant's daughter, Alex, from their nefarious intentions.

Ultimately, it isn't the rough and tumble spy stuff that's hard for Molly (or rather her collegiate pseudonym Brooke Stonebridge), instead it's manoeuvring through the lexicon heavy social sphere of university life. Will she learn to fit in? Will she get the guy? Will she stop haphazardly pulling guns on her sorority sisters?

Indeed, the real mystery of So Undercover probably lies in Molly's peers' inability to notice that something in her persona is drastically off. She let's slip about her love of guns, occasionally brandishes them, unabashedly questions fellow students, has an in depth knowledge of FBI policy and generally remains awkward enough in her daily interactions as to arouse anyone's suspicions. One almost imagines that Molly's business-as-usual idea of 'undercover' amounts solely to strenuous denial of her undercover status and the odd iteration of a teen slang term like 'amazeballs'.

While never living up to their somewhat mercurial charms, So Undercover is a likable romp that takes its cues from fish-out-of-water comedies like Mean Girls, Legally Blonde and Miss Congeniality. In the end, however, it finds its funny feet while wading through derivative territory and isn't as totally unlikable as perhaps I've made it sound. Still, I'm very surprised this title isn't So Straight-to-Video.

- Cormac O'Brien