Is it OK to be a straight male and like ‘High School Musical?’


High School Musical” represents everything I despise about the corporate juggernaut known as Disney: Flawless teens seemingly air-brushed by nature, ready-to-market characters prepared to franchise into every imaginable direction (stage play, television series, dolls, ice show, dolls, recording contracts, etc.), and a story you can set your watch to.

It’s also pretty darn fun, gosh darn it.

I realize that the majority of the target audience of ‘High School Musical 3: Senior Year’ could not give two shakes of Zac Efron’s hips as to what my opinion of the film is. So this review go out to all the parents out there.

If there is a female child dwelling in your home and who is old enough to form a complete sentence, chances are good she knows of the juggernaut knows as “High School Musical” (or ‘HSM’ if you wanna b, like, hip). Chance are, too, that you have a musical number or two lodged in your cerebral cortex as it played on an endless loop in your DVD player, or as your child practiced some third-rate karaoke version of it in front of any and all reflective surfaces within your home.

For this, their third outing, the East High Wildcats are in their freshly scrubbed final year in this homogenize high school, and the doubts and fears of life outside the hallowed halls are now front and center in the minds of leads Troy (Efron), Gabrielle (Vanessa Hudgens), Chad (Corbin Blue), Taylor (Monique Coleman), and Sharpay (Ashley Tisdale). As with any plot in a film with “musical” in the title, the teens plans to put on a group show, much to the dismay of the the self-absorbed Sharpay, who wants a one-woman show for her finale.

And while it may feel like a cheap money-grabbing ploy to splash the big screen with this third installment, considering the first two films were squished into the confines of the small screen where their ratings shot through the ceiling, but considering the emotional resonance of high school’s senior year, it seems rather fitting.

It does not hurt that the cast don’t seem phased by their universal omnipotence in the rooms of pre-pubescent girls and give each number their all. But the most inspired bits of this outing are compliments of director/choreographer Kenny Ortega.

Ortega has lent his moves to movies since 1980s roller disco camp classic “Xanadu,” and whose career since has busted some moves (“Dirty Dancing,” the under-appreciated “Newsies”) and lost its grooves (“Shag” or “Salsa,” anyone?) — and he’s next set to direct the remake of the 80s equivalent to “HSM,” “Footloose” in 2010) — but he finds his groove early here and channels his inner Fosse. He never misses an opportunity to toss in a nod to musicals past, from the faux-tough “West Side Story” orneriness of “The Boys are Back,” to the Busby Berkely-inspired “A Night to Remember,” and even the spinning room of “Roman Holiday” for good measure.

It’s not a far cry from the “put on a show” mentality of Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney so many decades ago.

And as a parent of a young daughter who adores “Singin’ in the Rain,” it’s a tad refreshing to witness another musical that can be easily inserted into the DVD player without fear of her emulating the pelvic thrusts of so many other hungry starlets in the current pop stratosphere.

The only time “HSM3” trips on its stage is when it attempts to shoehorn its newest batch of fresh-faced cast members (poised and ready for their “High School Musical 4” debut, coming to a TV near you in 2009). They possess little of the mile-wide charisma of Efron or Tisdale’s catty histrionics.

It’s a fitful send-off to seniors so squeaky clean, they make “ABC’s Afterschool Specials” look like Larry Clarke’s “Kids” by comparison. It’s a cheery, chipper finale so wholesome it may leave calcium deposits in its wake, but so gleefully in love with its own power of positivity, it happily earns its tasseled mortarboard.

~ by usesoapfilm on October 28, 2008.

3 Responses to “Is it OK to be a straight male and like ‘High School Musical?’”

  1. To answer your question: No. It’s not.
    But it should also be said that it’s not okay for gay males, old ladies, or even tweens to like HSM. No one should like it.

    Also, Newsies IS the most under-appreciated Christian Bale musical ever made.

  2. Yeah, unlike that over-rated musical ‘Rescue Dawn.’ I just did not find it all that dancable.

  3. Right???
    I also can’t ever remember ANY of the songs from Reign of Fire.

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