I can’t help that I love ‘High School Musical’ okay?
I often find myself suddenly craving a specific type of TV/movies. Last week it was a gritty, action type adventure with reanimated mummies and life or death situations.
Apparently this week my subconscious wants to relive my childhood — specifically age eight when “High School Musical” premiered on Disney Channel. But I couldn’t stop there. I clearly had no other choice but to watch its sequels “High School Musical 2” and “High School Musical: Senior Year.” I think though I’m just going to focus on the first movie (you’re welcome to whoever reads this column).
All three movies are centered around a group of students at East High School in Albuquerque, New Mexico (a very random location in my opinion).
“High School Musical,” which premiered in 2006, opens with a New Year’s Eve party at a ski resort. Basketball guy Troy Bolton (Zac Efron) and shy bookworm Gabriella Montez (Vanessa Hudgens) first meet during a party for teenagers at the resort. They suddenly find themselves forced together by an emcee and sing karaoke together, specifically the movies first musical number “Start of Something New.” A tale as old as time really. Doesn’t everyone meet their soulmate by having great chemistry during a karaoke party?
After the party, the two exchange numbers, rushing to find their families before they could learn more about each other.
Troy and Gabriella meet each other again a few days later at East High School. Both juniors, Troy is the school’s star basketball player and Gabriella is a new student.
Soon the two find themselves the center of attention when they get a callback for the winter musical after an unofficial try out. Why is this an issue? Because social cliques in this high school apparently don’t mix. The sports people — Troy’s tribe — mingle with themselves; Gabriella’s braniac squad avoid others and the theater kids, run by twins Sharpay (Ashley Tisdale) and Ryan (Lucas Grabeel), believe everyone is beneath them.
Sharpay is threatened by the duo, who could steal the lead role from her, and Troy and Gabriella’s friends Chad (Corbin Bleu) and Taylor (Monique Coleman) are afraid the two’s relationship and sudden interest in music is bad for the school as a whole.
The flow of the this movie isn’t too bad for its time and for the age group it’s aimed for. Eight-year-old me didn’t question Troy and Gabriella suddenly falling in love a week after they met. Although, if I’m remembering right, that’s exactly how a good portion of high school relationships start out.
Regardless, the pacing isn’t too bad and the musical numbers are definitely memorable and catchy. You’ve got soulful ballads like “When there was you and me” sung by Hudgens and “Breaking Free” sung by Efron and Hudgens (one of my personal favorites).
There’s also faster paced songs like “Get’cha Head in the Game” (because who doesn’t express their desire to avoid singing… by singing?) and “Stick to the Status Quo” where students are peer pressured into forfeiting their interests in the name of cliques (not the best message). Overall though the premise of the movie is the opposite of this catchy tune.
It encourages kids to break out of their molds and try something new. In typical Disney fashion you’ve got extremely clean jokes and an overall upbeat tone throughout the movie — mixed with those juicy bits of over-the-top drama — ending with the titular “We’re All In This Together” number. Which at this moment (and probably when this is published) is stuck in my head.
This movie served as Efron’s breakout role and definitely helped lead him to blockbuster films such as “The Greatest Showman” years later. However, in the first film, Efron didn’t provide all the vocals. Singer Drew Seeley had to provide some because Efron was a baritone and the songs were written for a tenor. Don’t worry though, by “High School Musical 2” it’s all him.
The one negative thing I will say about this film (don’t come for me about this… that’s it I swear) is its treatment of Sharpay.
Tisdale does a great job of bringing this overdramatic theater star to life. However, her reaction to losing her lead role to a couple of amateurs is totally valid. I don’t know about anyone else but I’d also be annoyed if an inexperienced person was favored over me. However, the sneaky tricks she pulls in the film weren’t a good reaction. So it’s 50/50 for me on her “villain” status during the movie.
“High School Musical” is one of those movies for me that holds a lot of nostalgia. Many believe it was the Millenial/Gen Z version of the ever popular “Grease” and I see where they’re coming from. It’s got musical numbers, a “forbidden romance” and based in high school.
If you’ve got some kiddos that want to watch something new, and if they haven’t already watched it, I’d recommend giving this movie a try. Or even watch it yourself if you’re feeling like something extremely light hearted with tunes that’ll get stuck in your head… I promise I won’t tell anyone if you do.
“High School Musical” is rated G and can be rented on Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play and iTunes or viewed on Disney+ with a subscription.
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Laura Jameson is a staff reporter for The Express.