Film: “High School Musical 3: Senior Year”

Though I handily declared in my review of High School Musical 2 that I would not be shelling out cash to watch the third (and final?) instalment of the Disney franchise, I was sorely mistaken. Thankfully, I think this movie was well-worth my money, and did much in the way of redeeming the sad excuse for a second film.

High School Musical 3: Senior Year is set at East High (instead of say, a country club), and chronicles the musically-inclined friends as they ponder their futures and put on a final show together. My simple litmus test for an enjoyable movie of this calibre is whether or not it manages to put a smile of my face; it did.

Like the first film, Senior Year didn’t take itself too seriously – it was lighthearted and filled with catchy tunes. Some of the voices were obviously synthesized, but at this point, I felt I could overlook that for the spectacle of the musical numbers. There were a few “edgier” songs as well – Troy (Zac Efron) and Chad’s “The Boys Are Back”, performed in an automobile junk yard (as an homage to Stomp, perhaps?) and Efron’s anguished “Scream”, sung with lightning and strobe lights blazing in the background. Efron deserves special mention, as to both Mack and I, it seemed he was performing as if his career depended on it – he obviously put his heart and soul into this movie.

My favourite song was the clever “A Night to Remember”, which showcased the dual points of view girls and boys harbour with regards to prom night. The visual spectacle of “I Want it All” was also a high point. Mack liked the titular inclusion in the end number, “High School Musical”, but both of us wondered why the performers were made to wear their graduation gowns throughout the song – it was impossible to discern their dance movements as they flailed around, and I felt especially sorry for Vanessa Hudgens, as she was absolutely dwarfed by the cloth robe.

The movie also decided to (wisely) incorporate references and refrains to the original High School Musical, rewarding loyal audience members who have followed the franchise thus far. Mack thought this went too far, in the sense that some of the issues presented this time around were ones that had already been dealt with, such as Troy’s overbearing father.

While I won’t be running out to buy the soundtrack or the DVD when it is released, I am happy that the movies that bookend the trilogy are as positive and enjoyable as they are. If I ever feel the need to taste innocence and unbounded optimism, I know where to turn.