Zac Efron ………. Troy Bolton
Vanessa Anne Hudgens ………. Gabriella Montez
Ashley Tisdale ………. Sharpay Evans
Lucas Grabeel ………. Ryan Evans
Alyson Reed ………. Mrs. Darbus
Corbin Bleu ………. Chad Danforth
Monique Coleman ………. Taylor McKessie
Olesya Rulin ………. Kelsi Nielsen
Chris Warren Jr. ………. Zeke
Bart Johnson ………. Coach Jake Bolton
Ryne Sanborn ………. Jason
What happens when you mix together singing, dancing, young people, a love story, the Disney Channel, and Kenny Ortega? Well..you get the most successful movie for the Disney Channel EVER! And that’s saying something since the Disney Channel is a highly rated channel on cable, whose key demographics are kids (ages 4-14). That’s the age range of people who can’t usually go out and do other things on the weekends. They have to stay home with their parents or babysitters. And what do they do? They watch movies and since the Disney Channel is “kid-friendly”..they are usually Disney Channel Original movies! So these movies get a lot of viewers, but none more than High School Musical. The question is why?
First, what is the movie about? It’s a movie musical that tells the story of two polar opposites, Troy the basketball captain and Gabriella the shy brainiac, who try out for the lead parts in their school musical. They meet each other during Christmas break when they are forced to sing karaoke together. They don’t want to do it at first, but once they start singing together..they like it. After the song, they introduce themselves and exchange numbers. Once school gets back in session, Gabriella’s mom happens to get transferred to Albuquerque, New Mexico. That forces Gabriella to go to East High School, which happens to be the high school that Troy goes to. They are surprised to find that out when they meet again in home room, which is being taught by Mrs. Darbus. She is the head of the Drama Club and is organizing the Winter Musical for the school. Here is where it all comes together. Gabriella and Troy enjoyed singing with each other so much that they think about trying out for the school musical. The problem with that is the brother and sister team of Sharpay and Ryan Evans.
Sharpay and Ryan are your “villains” in this film. They are minor ones, but they are the antagonists to Troy and Gabriella. Sharpay and Ryan have been the star of every single musical or play that the school has ever had. No one even tries to compete against them. They are good at what they do, but sometimes it’s a little “over-the-top”. Still..they intimidate people, which is why they always star in the plays.
Troy and Gabriella wish to try out and sing, though. They can’t, though, or they won’t. Why? Stereotypes and the cliques that exist in high school. There are groups of kids at school that are supposed to be with each other and do certain things. You have the “jocks”, the “brainiacs”, the “band geeks”, “drama kids”, and the “skaters” among others. Gabriella is smart and is considered a nerd. Troy is the star of the basketball team and an athlete. Neither is supposed to be singing in the school play. They have other responsibilities as well. Troy has a championship to win with his team. His dad is the coach of the team as well. Singing in the school musical takes a lot of time and practice. Time that Troy doesn’t have a lot of. The same goes for Gabriella. She is on the scholastic decathlon team. They have a competition coming up as well. That leads to the basketball team and the scholastic decathlon team getting together to try and break up Troy and Gabriella, so that they can focus on their individual competitions. Troy and Gabriella do try out, though, and they get a “callback” to come back and compete against Ryan and Sharpay for the top spots in the musical. However, Ryan and Sharpay decide to switch the “callbacks” to the same day as the championship basketball game and the Scholastic Decathlon. Why? They are “evil”..that’s why. Everyone seems to be against Troy and Gabriella. It seems easier just to be who they are “supposed” to be and do what they are “supposed” to do. But what fun is that?
The main idea in this movie is stereotypes. Everyone that has been to high school knows that they are cliques in high school. They are supposed to be in a certain group and act a certain way. I was not really in one group. I was in a small group of people that floated between groups. We were friends with all the groups. So I can relate to Troy and Gabriella. They think that people will laugh at them or they might disappoint others if they decide to do something other than what they are “supposed” to do. There is a song in the movie called “Stick to the Status Quo”. That sums up the main point. Troy and Gabriella can find other interests that they are good at or they can just “stick to the status quo”. It’s a good message to the kids, especially since the movie is aimed for kids that are not in high school yet. They can be anything they want to be. They don’t have to limit themselves to just one thing or one group. As long as you follow your heart and dreams..everything will be fine. And your friends will accept if you they are really your friends. If they don’t, then you didn’t need them anyways.
Some say this movie is like Grease and that is pretty safe to say. There are a lot of similarities between the two movies. A boy and girl meet over a school break and fall for each other. They have to split up, though. However, the girl transfers to the boy’s school and they get back together. They can’t be together at school, though, because they belong to different cliques. And some of the songs are similar too. Maybe that’s what they were going for. In fact, this may be the movie that propels Zac Efron into a “star” in future films just like John Travolta. And it may a little something to the parents of the kids that watch this film. Of course, this is a Disney film, so it leaves out all the “risky” stuff that was in Grease. But as a result, High School Musical is not very original. Almost every scene we have seen before. The acting is not that great either. It doesn’t have to be, since it’s for kids. It’s not horrible or anything, but it’s nothing special. Average at best.
The highlights of the movie are the singing and dancing. It’s a musical, so you would expect that. I would contribute the success of the film to the singing and dancing. And the success of the singing and dancing is due to Kenny Ortega. He was the lead choreographer for lots of movies in the 80’s including Shag, Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and Dirty Dancing. If you saw Dirty Dancing, you know that he knows what he is doing when it comes to singing and dancing. This is his film and one of the reasons why it’s entertaining.
I can see why this film has been so successful. It is entertaining. It has some pretty good songs and dance numbers. Nothing earth-shattering, though. But it will keep your kids entertained throughout and singing and dancing along the way. It will be a film that kids will watch over and over again. And if you have kids, be prepared to watch it. You can sit through it as an adult and enjoy it. It’s not that bad of a movie. However, you probably won’t love it enough to watch it on your own like ‘Shrek’ or ‘Finding Nemo’ or ‘Ice Age’ or watch it repeated times. The film has a good message, though, and that’s why it has become one of the Disney Channel’s biggest movies to date!
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: 7/10
TOTAL POINTS: 25/50
FINAL SCORE: 5
The video is given in 1.33:1 fullscreen color. Transfer is decent with minimal distortion. No real problems here. You can watch this film in it’s original version seen on TV or you can go the “sing-along” route and watch the film with subtitles during the musical numbers so that you can sing-along!
The audio included is in English Dolby 5.1 Surround sound with English subtitles. No problems here either. Since it’s a musical, you would figure that they would put out the best quality here and you would be right. Good as it gets.
Sing-Along Version of the Movie–
There is an option to watch this film with this sing-along version of the movie. It’s the same as the original version, except for when it comes to the musical numbers in the movie. When everyone breaks out singing, there are special sing-along subtitles on the screen so that you can sing-along. It’s the “karaoke” version of the film. Nothing really special, though. But it’s there for those who are interested.
“Learning The Moves” Featurette–
This is led by Director/Choreographer, Kenny Ortega, and he basically takes you through all the steps during the “Bop to the Top” song performed by Ashley Tisdale and Lucas Grabeel.
“Bringing It All Together” Behind-The-Scenes Featurette–
This is about 10 minutes long and tells you a little bit about how the movie was made and how certain people were cast and all of that. The usual stuff, but it’s a little short.
“I Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” Music Video–
This is a song featuring Zac, Vanessa, Ashley, and Lucas. It never made it to the final film, so it’s interesting to watch it for the first time ever. The song is not that great, though. Nothing that you would be mad you missed or anything, but it’s equal to the rest of the songs.
“We’re All In This Together” Music Video–
Another music video. This is one we saw in the movie. It’s the song at the end of the movie. But actually this music video is shorter than the song in the movie, since it went on during the ending credits.