Friday, August 11, 2006

High School Musical

So I finally watched High School Musical. I’m not sure what took me so long since a) I have enjoyed the soundtrack since I got it in February (even though it’s not THAT great but more on that later), b) I enjoy musicals and am in the firm belief that not enough come out every year c) I enjoy Disney programming (and sometimes even find myself watching The Suite Life of Zack & Cody for no apparent reason).

So taking the Disney Channel by storm, and now spawning a mini-industry including the live theatrical version for actual High Schools (and isn’t it great the camp that spawned the terrific movie CAMP will be the first ones to be allowed to perform it?) and a TV soundtrack album that remains on the charts after hitting number 1 for several weeks!

Is it any good though? Well, it IS the Disney Channel and it was originally made as just a TV movie and it is for the tweens set. Production values are low (they look like they pretty much moved into a suburban Utah High School during the summer. The building is that bland 90’s architecture and they filmed right there with little additional dressing), the sound quality is horrible (the transitions from dialogue to songs are extremely obvious and horribly edited), the acting is at best, very Disneyish, and the characters pretty much peg into every stereotype possible.

Did I love it though? Let’s just say that I couldn’t stop laughing or grinning with a big smile while I watched High School Musical. Half the time I couldn’t tell if I was laughing AT it or with it, but I was laughing, and totally enjoyed myself. In fact, I think I reverted back to a 13 year old girl during it because I basically LOVED it all and finally saw what all the hubbub is all about Zac Efron (who I had questioned when he won the role of Link in the new Hairspray movie (in which the cast is just getting better and better!)). The corny dialogue and the simplistic (but realistic probably due to low budgets) setting adds to the charm, since musicals tend to live in a bottled world (see Moulin Rouge! Or anything old minus The Sound of Music), helps HSM almost ground itself into a banal world we all normally live in.

The actors are cute enough including Lucas Gabreel who appeared as the gay baseball player at Neptune High in Veronica Mars, and the aforementioned Zac Efron (Summerland) who seems to be the new Kirk Cameron-like pinup (though with a softer less abrasive cocky attitude). Vanessa Anne Hudgens is beautifully sweet as the smart girl led to singing lead, and Ashley Tisdale (also on The Suite Life of Zack & Cody) is just Saved by the Bell enough to play the Drama Queen nemesis Sharpay (Sharpay?).

For those who haven’t actually heard the Billboard #1 Album yet, the songs are actually not that great, yet not completely horrible either, and with a few listens, you find yourself humming to them anyways. Personal fave is “What I’ve Been Looking For”, both the hammed up version with Lucas Gabreel and Ashley Tisdale, and the romantic version with Zac Efron (though apparently partially dubbed) and Vanessa Anne Hudgens. Still, complete with mediocre choreography and smiles plastered on all the cast, extras included, one can’t help but love this little musical that could. High School Musical is complete cheese but oooey oooey goooey good cheese!

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