Maybe "High School" is too childish

Oct. 27, 2008, midnight | By Poorna Natarajan | 12 years, 11 months ago

Third installment fails to deliver for nearly all audiences

When the first High School Musical movie came out in 2005, it became an indelible fascination for billions of preteen girls. Its sequel, High School Musical 2, attracted around 17.3 million viewers and became the highest-rated Disney Channel Movie ever. Director Kenny Ortega returns with his cast in the brainless yet glamorous final installment, "High School Musical 3: Senior Year," that is sure to set elementary school girls into squeals of delight.

The movie opens with a close-up of main character Troy (Zac Efron), whose face is distorted by fierce concentration. He has sixteen minutes left in a basketball game and East High's wildcats are at a severe loss. Soon, the dialogue stills and the wildcats break into a song titled "Now or Never." Unsurprisingly, the wildcats win the game with their awesome dance moves. The opening is a foreboding for the rest of the movie, which is filled with bogus G-rated drama that leaves anyone older than 12 wishing for something other than inane nonsense.

The angsty Troy Bolton (Zac Efron) who was jumping and screaming across a golf pavilion in the second musical is back and more emotionally torn than ever. As a senior, Troy has college on his mind. His father and best friend Chad Danforth (Corbin Bleu) want Hoops - Troy's oh-so-creative nickname - to go to his father's alma mater University of Albuquerque and play on its basketball team. But going to school in Albuquerque would separate Troy from his love Gabriella Montez (Vanessa Anne Hudgens), who is attending Stanford. Already conflicted, Troy soon learns that he is one of four candidates from East High - the others being Sharpay Evans (Ashely Tisdale), Ryan Evans (Lucas Grabeel), and Kelsi Nielsen (Olesya Rulin) - of receiving a full scholarship to Julliard, a college he did not even apply to.

The plot was clearly not a priority and neither was staying true to reality. Disney is famous for adding a touch of fantasy to each of its films and "High School Musical 3" is no exception. East High is lavish and seems a resort compared to most high schools. The students rarely do homework, wear ridiculously color-coordinated clothes, frolic on a picturesque roof and have fine dining for lunch. Sure, it's just a movie, but couldn't Disney have made even a half-hearted attempt to keep it real?

However, the flashy glamour complements the amazing dance choreography. Ortega directed classics like "Dirty Dancing" and saves the movie with winning dance moves; the wildcats seem as though they stepped off the set of "Dancing with the Stars." The timing and synchronization of music and dancing are so excellently done that viewers are successfully distracted from the shallow plotline. The catchy songs will rise on the billboard charts and are improvements from the music in the two previous HSM dramas.

Other than above par songs, the undeniable highlight of the entire film is the chemistry between Hudgens and Efron. As a couple, they seem to add the only realistic element to the entire movie. However, the overall acting was merely mediocre - although Efron's good looks might have gathered some sighs from preteen girls. While Tisdale could have been given better clothes, she stands out from the rest of the cast with her portrayal of Sharpay, the "villain" of the drama. Despite the triteness of her character's role, Tisdale is able to add a comedic element to the film.

The movie lacks great acting or a plotline – the two most important things for a movie – yet has managed to rise to the top of the box office during the opening weekend. But for any high school student with a maturity level higher than a sixth grade girl, "High School Musical 3: Senior Year" seems as overrated as its box office numbers.

"High School Musical 3: Senior Year" (112 minutes) is rated G and has no objectionable content. Now playing everywhere.

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