With “The Last Song” washing into theaters today, let’s hope the Georgia Aquarium gift shop folks have plenty of their signature polo shirts in stock.
The downtown Atlanta tourist attraction, also known as the world’s largest aquarium, has a pair of cameos in the new Miley Cyrus flick, based on a story by “The Notebook” author Nicholas Sparks and released by Walt Disney Studios.
The film, shot primarily on Tybee Island on coastal Georgia last summer takes a wee bit of license with the state’s geography, moving the Atlanta aquarium to the right a few hundred miles.
The aquarium scenes here were the final segments shot for the flick.
In the film, Cyrus plays a gifted but troubled teenager (we know this because the “Hannah Montana” mainstay is sporting black combat boots in her first beach scene…) sent by her mom (played by Kelly Preston) to live with her father (Greg Kinnear) for the summer.
Naturally, a tousled haired volleyball playing aquarium volunteer (played by Australian newcomer Liam Hemsworth, who is now dating Cyrus off screen) is soon stopping by the family beachhouse as Cyrus’ strong-willed Ronnie Miller attempts to save a sea turtle nest.
As luck would have it for the Georgia Aquarium, the couple enjoys a first date underwater and in Georgia Aquarium emblazoned scuba gear. (Hemsworth also pimps the aforementioned aquarium polo shirt in the film).
Curiously though, the exterior shot of the Georgia Aquarium used extensively in “The Last Song” trailer has mysteriously vanished from the finished film Intel screened last week.
And since this is a Nicholas Sparks story, the closest thing the film has to a villain is Marcus, a shaggy haired pot smoker (played by Nick Lashaway) who looks about as menacing wielding a tire iron as an American Eagle apparel model.
Cyrus’ biggest foe in the film may well be her jacked-up front tooth that appeared cute on the Disney Channel but takes on frightening proportions on the silver screen.
The film’s real winner?
Tybee Island’s tourism trade.
The quaint beach town looks postcard perfect throughout the film.
And now, thanks to Disney and Tybee Island businesswoman Stacye C. Jarrell, residents have a permanent souvenir of the shoot last summer: The 1908 Tybee Island Baptist Church, which figures prominently throughout the film.
Disney built the chapel for the film and was about to spend $30,000 to knock it down post-filming until Jarrell, the owner of Oceanfront Cottage Rentals, helped to talk them out of it.
Later this summer, the structure, rechristened “the Miley Cyrus church” by Tybee Island locals, will open as a rentable wedding venue and live music venue.