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ISBS Movie Review: High School Musical 3

By Brian | October 25, 2008 | Share on Facebook

If you haven’t been living under a rock lately, you know that this weekend marked the debut of High School Musical 3, the third installment in the wildly successful Disney series. This was the first of the three that debuted in theaters (the other two living exclusively on The Disney Channel until, of course, they made their way to DVD). With two children in my house, ages 8 and 5, it was mandatory viewing this evening (my kids happen to be boys; if they were girls it would have been mandatory last night after school, or at least this morning – which is why I saw several neighborhood Brownie troops heading into the theater this morning when I went to buy advance tickets).

Asking a G-rated movie aimed primarily at pre-teen girls to live up to this kind of hype is asking a lot. It’s a true credit to this film to say that it handles the task admirably, although there are most definitely some flaws. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

First, the plot: the gang from HSM1 and HSM2 return for their senior year. Unlike the other two movies, this edition starts with the East Side High Wildcats basketball team winning it’s championship game. With that neatly out of the way, the group begins considering their future. Some, like Troy (Zac Efron) and Chad (Corbin Bleu) have obvious default choices – the University of Albuquerque (the local U. and Troy’s dad’s alma mater) already have their lockers picked out. Others, like Gabriella (Vanessa Hudgens) have selected their college, but have more complex choices to make, like whether to attend a college honors program that pulls her out of high school early enough to miss the school’s spring musical and it’s senior prom. These two events (but really the musical, as per the title) become the focus of the movie. The musical’s theme, “Senior Year” serves as a multi-faceted plot device that allows each character to consider his/her future through what he/she performs in the show, etc. In fact, in a scene that bends reality a bit [NO SPOILERS HERE - I PROMISE], the musical’s finale actually consists of the school’s drama teacher revealing each student’s plans for the following year, sometimes to the complete surprise of the student himself/herself.

In terms of a review, the best I can do is this: this movie constantly teeters on the brink of ridiculousness, but never actually crosses the line, leaving audiences (even the parents) feeling good at the end. Enough so that we forgive quite a bit of forced dialog, awkwardly wedged-in song cues, and the occasional bout of over-acting. The actors do a fine job with what they’re given, although quite a few of them have grown up significantly since the last movie, a fact that is conveniently ignored throughout the film, of course. The leads, Efron and Hudgens, are clearly being groomed for other, non-Disney roles, as they appear much more grown-up and edgier this time around. And the music? The music has become a genre of it’s own. It’s the kind of music you could hear totally out of context and say to yourself, “that sounds like a High School Musical song.” Surprisingly, it took the writers untill the graduation scene in the third movie to actually write a song called “High School Musical,” and it’s title is so jarring that even the kids winced a bit when the cast launched into it.

But whatever flaws the movie has are very much beside the point. When the lights went down at the beginning of the picture, the audience in the theater burst into spontaneous, anticipatory applause. The applauded after several of the musical numbers as well. And my kids? In typical Disney fashion, my kids’ reaction was exactly what Disney was hoping for. The older one sat mesmerized throughout the film, memorizing every detail and pointing out subtleties in the plot (“Mommy, if Gabriella goes to college in California and Troy goes to college in New Mexico, they won’t get to see each other so much anymore”). The younger one smiled ear-to-ear throughout the film and then, as if struck by lightning, turned to me during the finale and said, “Daddy, is this the last High School Musical movie ever on the entire earth?” Well, son, they’ve graduated now, so unless someone’s writing “College Musical 1,” then yes – this is the end. His reaction: “Can we buy the DVD tomorrow?”

Bottom line: if you (and/or your kids) enjoyed the first two films, then this truly is required viewing. It’s Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith without all the complicated whining about how the writer/director didn’t satisfactorily tie up all the loose ends. You will leave the theater tapping your toe, feeling good, and satisfied that the story reached a proper conclusion. Then, you’ll get in your car and realize that it’s High School Freakin’ Musical music that you’re humming, and immediately click over to your hard rock playlist to clear your palette.

Or at least, that’s what I did…

Topics: ISBS Reviews, Movie Talk | 1 Comment »

One Response to “ISBS Movie Review: High School Musical 3”

  1. Ilya says at October 27th, 2008 at 6:17 am :
    My girls went to see it on Friday night. I wasn’t present for that, but I’m sure there will be many occasions for me to catch up :-)

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