Friday, October 24, 2008

Seriously! - High School Musical 3: Senior Year - Movie Review

Yes, I just got back from seeing High School Musical 3: Senior Year already. And no, I was not the only adult without kids in the theatre. On the other hand, the theatre was chock full of kids (one of 3 sold out showings within the hour) which begs me to ask, don't these kids have actual SCHOOL to attend?

So, everyone who is going to see this is going to go anyways (and I predict a pretty BIG opening), and anybody who isn't is probably running as far far away as they can, but if you loved the first two High School Musical's, then you'll enjoy this (especially if you're a musical theatre fan, or under 16, or over 16 and female or a gay male), if you didn't, the big screen version won't convince you otherwise. So continue running.

But let's get right down to it. The big screen movie is bigger but is it better? It's... different. Sure, we are back at East Side High and the camera work is a little slicker, but sadly the audio dubbing still sort of sucks (can they NOT get the lip synching right with better audio editing?). The songs are still automatically catchy but since we haven't had time to ingrain the soundtracks into our brains yet, it's still a welcome to hear "We're All In This Together" near the end.

The dancing is bigger and better with wide views where we can actually see the choreography, and the musical numbers are all surrealistically weird and wonderful with many harking back to those old classic musicals during the black and white days.

There's a really odd number ("The Boys Are Back") in a scrap yard where Troy and Chad sing and dance on old cars and then a bunch of overalled men jump out of nowhere to join as the chorus. It's truly weird and almost freaky. It competes with "Scream" where Zac Efron, as the confused (!?!) basketball/stage star Troy Bolton, gets to do his solo singing/screaming routine a la "Bet On It" that is truly ridicucheesy and fantastic!

And herein lies the problem of the movie. Where the first was a Grease/West Side Story homage about the status quo, and the second was a look at the class system, the third movie is essentially about growing up and the choices we must make, but particularly about Troy's outlook beyond Senior Year, and while it may resonate as something more serious and interesting to those actually in high school or slightly older, I think Troy's dilema was lost amongst the huge crowd under 14. And with the serious tone and issues, so goes the fun which is essentially relegated to the musical numbers, while the cast is mostly set aside for Zac Efron's starring role (not necessarily a bad thing) as the tormented Troy.

But as the big star of High School Musical 3, Zac Efron shows more promise as a big screen leading man than ever (and he was already impressive in Hairspray) and while I'd like to see him take on more serious and varied roles (like the upcoming Me and Orson Welles), he has a knack for leading a musical here and charms his blue-eyed mop topped way through the screen.

So while we get more of Zac's pretty eyes, it prevents more time for the fabulous Ashley Tisdale as Sharpay Evans and the wonderful Lucas Grabeel as twin brother Ryan Evans. Ashley is up to no good again and Ryan continues to play both sides (yes, that was an intentional wording) but as the duo sings "I Want It All", I felt we didn't get all of Sharpay and Ryan just yet and I would have loved there to be even more of the fabulous siblings. Hey, now that this is one the big screen, does this mean Ashley Tisdale is eligible for an Oscar?

The another annoyance to both Troy, Sharpay and us is the franchises way of securing their mulit-million dollar future with some mini versions of the Wildcats, with mini Sharpays, Troy's and Chad's running around East Side High. Perfect set up for High School Musical: The New Class/The Next Generation. Hey, if it worked for Saved By The Bell, Degrassi and now 90210, why not keep it open for the future? Unfortunately, it's pretty obvious in the movie and taking away time from Gabriella, Taylor and everyone else.

Still, despite all the complaints, the flaws, and the more serious tone to the whole proceedings, it's the musical numbers that are still winning enough to make the movie thoroughly enjoyable led by a winning cast. And as like the first sequel, the plot is secondary and almost unnecessary since we'll probably just fast forward to the musical numbers when this gets onto DVD. Now if only the movie weren't so slick with its bigger budget since it loses its cheesy low-rent charm from the original TV movie that worked with a much simpler plot and much funnier (both laughing with and at it) charms.

Plus, the movie needs to squeeze in every movie musical cliche they could find. Yes they sing in the rain!

They revisit every set from the previous movies and yes, it's all kind of awesome in that nostalgic way.

High School Musical 3: Senior Year = 7/10 or a B


Keira Andrews said...

I quite enjoyed this movie! I mean, it's cheesy Disney fluff, but I had fun, as did my fellow adult friend.

Did you see Me and Orson Welles at TIFF? I thought Zac was excellent in it, and I'm not just saying that because I triple ::heart:: him. I hope the movie is picked up by a distributor soon. Last I heard they still didn't have a deal, which baffles me, since it was such a crowd pleaser.

Zac Efron, as the confused (!?!) basketball/stage star Troy Bolton, gets to do his solo singing/screaming routine a la "Bet On It" that is truly ridicucheesy and fantastic!

It was fabulous. We were howling at the "This time it's man-to-man" and "what's the right team?" lyrics. Oh, Disney. It's not even subtext, just text.

Dame James said...

I was very surprised by HSM3. I must say I was expecting yet another "so bad it's good" entry into the series and I was stunned to find out it was actually, you know, good. The musical numbers were better, I actually thought the sound quality was much improved from HSM2 and that ghastly "I Don't Dance" number and it didn't have any stupid subplots to get in the way of the musical numbers.

Hey, now that this is one the big screen, does this mean Ashley Tisdale is eligible for an Oscar?

In the words of Sarah Palin/Tina Fey, you betcha! And I'm campaigning hard to get her that deserved nomination.

Vance said...

Well, I would say the minime's subplots took too much time. I wouldn't mind the idea of spinoffs if they did it right but so far they were just kind of annoying.

I did love the bigger numbers though and better dancing and really want to see that again. Plus Zac Efron's eyes. Oh those eyes.

BTW, I'll support your campaign Dame James Henry!

Keira, no, didnt see Me and Orson Welles at TIFF. Wish I did but couldn't get tickets damnit.