Ending on a Low Note: “High School Musical 4”

Mack bought me a copy of High School Musical 3: Senior Year over the weekend, and we watched it again for the second time. I really liked it when I saw it in the theatre, but I was afraid it wouldn’t hold up on repeat viewings. I am happy to report that it did!

I still think the songs are incredibly catchy, possibly even better than those in the first High School Musical. Being a sucker for dance numbers too, I love “A Night to Remember” and the reprise of “Can I Have This Dance”. As I’ve said in the past, there is something so innocent and hopeful about the series, and I can’t help but feel uplifted after I watch either film. I might even rent High School Musical 2 just to see if it’s as bad as I remember it to be.

Of course, Disney can’t seem to leave well enough alone and let the series finish on a high note, as it was released this week that they will be making a fourth film. Featuring an all-new cast (and potentially a storyline rivalry with another school – West High, perhaps?), I’m sure they will attempt to recreate the energy and excitement of the trilogy, but it just won’t be the same without the smiling faces of Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens greeting the audience. Will I watch it when it premieres on TV in 2010? Likely, but with bottom barrel expectations.

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.

Movies on the Square: “High School Musical”

When the City of Edmonton started offering free screenings of movies in Churchill Square, I knew this would be the closest I would get to a drive-in for a while. I was waiting for a for a film I either actually wanted to see, or one I deemed was worth watching again. When High School Musical was announced for the August 2 show, I knew this was it.

I’ve seen the film several times since being dazzled by it last year, but the idea of watching it on the big screen, under the stars and in the shadow of buildings in the downtown core, was irresistible.

The set-up

Armed with camping chairs, a blanket, a bag of goodies and mugs of tea, we joined a modest crowd of fifty people already huddled around the front of the screen. It had drizzled a bit as we were heading to the Square, but thankfully we had no use for the umbrellas we had brought along just in case. While most of the audience was comprised of families, there were a few pairs of adults and couples our age.

Mack

Me

A Fat Franks food cart was on site, which may not have been a bad thing on that chilly evening. I was glad I had brought along a mug of tea and a blanket; without them, I would have froze in the windy conditions. The people in front of us who wore winter jackets definitely had foresight.

In all, it was a pretty cool experience, even if the audience didn’t get up to dance in tune with the movie (like that scene in The Wedding Planner). If you missed it, you have three more opportunities this summer, with screenings being held on August 29-31, movie titles TBA.

“High School Musical 2” Premiere Date

Mark your calendars – High School Musical 2: Sing it All or Nothing will debut on the Disney Channel and its Canadian Family Channel affiliate on August 17.

Speaking of HSM, rumors are abound that its leads Zac Efron and Vanessa Anne Hudgens are an item! My cynical self thinks this to be a spring-summer romance, but regardless of the catalyst, it’s a great publicity stunt for the upcoming release.

And if you thought one sequel was enough, I’m sorry to disappoint you with the news that the third installment, Haunted High School Musical has already been planned for a 2008 theatrical release. How’s that for tween power?