High School Musical
Rated PG; Directed by Kenny Ortega; Starring Zac Efron, Vanessa Anne Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Corbin Bleu, Monique Coleman
I love musicals. So, when my niece wanted me to watch High School Musical with her, I didn’t object. My seven-year old niece just LOVES it. She can watch this movie over and over and even knows the songs by heart. She has the soundtrack, which I heard over and over again when she visited last week. She LOVES it, but do I? Eh, love ain’t the right word. Let’s just say I found parts of it enjoyable.
This Disney film first aired on TV and is now out on DVD doing brisk business. Its cheery message about daring to follow your dreams, even if those dreams just mean trying out for the high school musical, is a good one. Give credit to the script for going beyond the boy meets girl type of musical. Though there is a romance between the two leads it doesn’t take up the whole shebang. Instead, we get a story about two people who want to burst out of their stereotypes and try something new. There’s Troy (Zac Efron), East High’s star basketball player. Over winter vacation he meets shy Gabriella (Vanessa Anne Hudgens), one super smart kid. They are forced to sing together on stage at a New Year’s Eve karaoke bash. They are great, surprising even themselves.
The next surprise is when Gabriella turns up at Troy’s school as a transfer student. The romance can continue, but ah, even better, there are auditions for an upcoming high school musical. Could they relive that magic they found New Year’s Eve? Can basketball-playing Troy dare to be more than a star athlete? Can super smart Gabriella try to achieve something more than academic success? Even more importantly, can Troy and Gabriella overcome the scheming of Sharpay (Ashley Tisdale) and Ryan (Lucas Grabeel), the two theater kids who expect to get the parts? I know, the suspense is just killing you, isn’t it?
The cast is pleasantly blah. A nice mix of various ethnicities, the cast sings and dances their hearts out (some of the cast’s singing voices were provided by more experienced singers). The few adult characters show up as overblown caricatures.
It’s a musical, which means there’s music. The tunes, by a stable of tunesmiths, are pleasant, with few standouts. “Stick to the Status Quo,” “Get’cha Head in the Game,” and the big finale, “We’re All in This Together,” are more memorable than the rest and can get you humming along.
So, High School Musical isn’t perfect for a musical-lover, but there is singing and dancing. The story is weak, but still manages to have some fun. Aimed at an audience of pre-teens and younger, it does great. Disney knows this audience – after all, my seven-year old niece just LOVES it.