Film review: "High School Musical 3: Senior Year" is great, cheesy musical fun
Published: Sunday, November 16, 2008 - 4:44pm
Starring Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens,
Released: Oct. 24, 2008
THERE'S NEVER BEEN a fictional school that I would like to attend more than East High.
Everything from the people to the cafeteria tables is bright and shiny. Everyone's always singing, and they're all good. No one ever has any homework because drama is apparently the only class.
Plus, they've obviously got truckloads of money on hand for school theatrical productions.
The latest installment of the series that has taken the tween world by storm comes in a slightly different package from the first two. Filmed on a much higher budget and released in theaters, "High School Musical 3: Senior Year" promised, despite having the least creative title ever, something bigger and better than anything ever premiering on the Disney Channel.
And in my opinion (as somewhat of a "High School Musical" expert), it delivered.
"High School Musical 3" finds the usual gang — Troy (Zac Efron), Gabriella (Vanessa Hudgens), Sharpay (Ashley Tisdale), Ryan (Lucas Grabeel), Chad (Corbin Bleu), Taylor (Monique Coleman), and Kelsi (Olesya Rulin) — in their senior year. They've all just finished applying to college and are in the midst of deciding which one to attend.
There's lots of typical high school drama. Troy can't decide between going after basketball or theater, while Gabriella is waiting to find out if she'll miss the last quarter of the year by going to Stanford early.
Chad, who is already set on playing basketball at the University of Albuquerque, is trying to get Taylor, already headed toward Yale, to go to prom with him. Ryan is conflicted between his loyalty to his twin sister, Sharpay, and his feelings for piano-playing Kelsi.
Sharpay just wants to cause trouble, specifically between Troy and Gabriella.
All the while, they're preparing to put on the biggest show of their high school careers, called "Senior Year." Unlike in the first two movies, there's little to no conflict over casting, since everyone automatically has a part. They each just play themselves!
That's right. The East High spring musical is the vaguely true story of the trials and tribulations of East High students in their senior year of high school, written by the drama teacher (Alyson Reed), composed by Kelsi, and choreographed by Ryan.
If that sounds lame to you, it kind of is. Or at least it sounds like it is. However, since scenes from the musical are shown interspersed with scenes from "real life" throughout the movie, you get to see basically the entire show, and it's really not as lame as it sounds. I would actually love to be in that musical.
Despite being released in theaters, this film is no less cheesy than the first two, but it is better. The music is more than just a couple of notes, and the lyrics are, for the most part, very well written. Even the dialogue has improved. I found myself cringing a lot less than I usually do in the presence of anything related to "High School Musical."
The biggest improvement, by far, is Efron himself, the franchise's biggest star. In the other two movies, especially since he didn't even sing most of the songs in the first one, his talent was questionable. It made you wonder if he was just getting by on his Abercrombie-model looks, knowing that just a hint of his upper arm could make the majority of females between the ages of 11 and 20 squeal their heads off.
In "Senior Year," Efron's talent has definitely caught up with his looks (which have gotten even better). He is arguably the best part of the movie, making it worthwhile even for the "HSM"-hating friends who watched it with me.
Troy sings the song "Scream," lamenting his relationship and college-decision troubles, while dancing around the empty halls of East High, while wearing jeans and a sleeveless basketball jersey, and it is one of the most attractive things ever. Plus, he's a very good singer. And a very good dancer. And has very nice arms.
Anyway, I'd say this movie is a vast improvement over the first two, in every way. The plot is still mildly ridiculous and predictable, the people are still unrealistically beautiful, the songs still annoyingly inspiring, and the messages, true to every Disney movie ever made, are still cringingly cliché.
But for anyone who even kind of liked "High School Musical" or "High School Musical 2," or even just likes to look at Zac Efron, "High School Musical 3: Senior Year" is a whole lot of good, clean fun.
However, in the event that anyone ever attempts to make a "High School Musical 4: We All Go to College and Everything We Did in High School Becomes Irrelevant," then I hereby retract any and all nice things I ever said about any of these movies.
"High School Musical 3: Senior Year" AT A GLANCE
- Starring: Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Lucas Grabeel, Corbin Bleu
- Directed by: Kenny Ortega
- Written by: Peter Barsocchini
- Genre: Comedy, Drama, Family, Musical, Romance
- Rated: G
- Runtime: 112 min.
- Release date: Oct. 24, 2008
- Summary (from IMDb): As seniors in high school, Troy and Gabriella struggle with the idea of being separated from one another as college approaches. Along with the rest of the Wildcats, they stage a spring musical to address their experiences, hopes and fears about their future.