“High School Musical”

I had heard about High School Musical here and there – a cast member on Jay Leno, a clip on the Family Channel – and I was morbidly curious as to what the hype was all about. So I took the time finally to sit down and watch it yesterday, in full, courtesy of my sister’s DVD.

The storyline is fairly straightforward – a basketball star meets a science champion on summer vacation, connect magically over a forced duet, and à la Grease, discover themselves schoolmates come September. They both want to audition, as a pair, for the school mu-zi-kal, but can’t due to peer pressure, and allegiance to their original callings. And I’m sure you can see where this is leading…

The movie is predictable, overacted, driven by stereotypes and characterized by clichéd moments…but in the end, it won me over. High School Musical never pretends to be anything other than a made for television family movie, and it’s hard to dislike a movie with a good heart at its core and noble intentions.

One song in particular, “Status Quo,” was rather clever. It involved members of several cliques confessing their deepest secrets – a jock’s penchant for baking, a skater’s talent for the cello, a bookworm’s love of hip hop. It kind of made me wish my high school cafeteria broke out into sweeping song and dance numbers more often.

The penultimate performance, “Breaking Free,” the showstopper involving the two leads, is pure pop, and irresistible in its own right. I wish they had eliminated the last number, “We’re All in This Together”, and ended on the more memorable “Breaking Free” instead. It not only screamed of Grease‘s “We Go Together,” with everyone pairing off, but also unnecessarily hammered home the movie’s byline that individual differences should be celebrated. But I guess if I’m looking for subtlety, I shouldn’t be watching the Disney Channel.

Turns out, High School Musical 2: Sing It All or Nothing! is already in the works, to be released some time this year. I may have to watch it just to see if it lives up to the original.

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