Who’s In It: Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Lucas Grabeel, Corbin Bleu, Monique Coleman, Ryne Sanborn, Chris Warren Jr, KayCee Stroh
The Basics: Should you play basketball or should you act and sing in the school musical? Should you be a brainiac nerd or should you breakdance? Should you make a crème brulee or should you play basketball with the guy who wants to act and sing in the school musical? Should you, the school’s lone male non-hooked-up-in-a-relationship-with-a-cute-opposite-sex-person, wear the pink plaid pants with the pink mini-fedora or should you contrast the pink plaid pants with the gray argyle vest and black mini-fedora? And will it all go well with the knee-high boots? Should you just forget all of those questions and start dancing and singing some more about how much you love to dance and sing? Answer: Yes.
What’s The Deal:
Dear Seven Year-Olds,
This movie is for you. You know it. Your parents know it. Everyone knows it. But I think it’s time you knew something really important. And it’s kind of a secret we’ve all been keeping from you, but you’re nearly in the third grade now and you’ve probably already heard way worse things. No, it’s not about Santa Claus. He’s real. You’re going to get lots of presents from him really soon. The thing is this: real-life high school is a brutal nightmare from which you may not soon recover. I recommend the following films to acclimate yourself to this harsh fact: Heathers, Over the Edge, Carrie and Elephant. It won’t be easy to accept at first, but you’ll get used to it. You’ll have to eventually. Just remember, you’re not all in this together. You never were. You never will be.
Sorry to be the one to have to say it,
What Good Reasons, Besides Ancillary Revenue Stream Considerations, Were There To Make the Jump From TV To Theatrical Release: Well you’d hope that the musical numbers would be bigger and cooler, and visually they mostly are. More dancers, flashier sets, more wacky costume changes, a chance for Zac Efron to roll around in one of those rotating room sets. It’s just that someone forgot to tell the songs that they were supposed to be as good as the art direction and the choreography. And without songs as good as “We’re All In This Together” from the first movie or “What Time Is It” from HSM2, this one just comes off like an overgrown TV movie with nothing much to offer. There's even a song simply called "High School Musical." If it were a musical about chocolate chip cookies it would be like all the cookies got together to sing a song about how they were chocolate chip cookies.
Not To Be Dismissed: The original film, simply called High School Musical., was, as kid’s programming went, almost revolutionary in its pushing of a no-boundaries-to-self agenda. It actively told children that they didn't have to be boxed in and labeled. It presented a world where everyone loved each other for their quirks and differences. It’s an aspirational fairy tale and kids need those. But by the beginning of this one, you realize that the first movie’s utopian dream is already crushed and that, however nice they are, the conflicted kids of that backstory are now the kings and queens of the school and every other student is their adoring fan-base. Not cool.