Friday, August 9, 2013

High School Musical (2006)

Number Rolled: 54
Movie Name/Year: High School Musical (2006)
Genre: Children & Family
Length: 97 minutes
Rating: G
Director: Kenny Ortega
Writer: Peter Barsocchini
Actors: Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Lucas Grabeel, Corbin Bleu, Monique Coleman, Bart Johnson, Alyson Reed, Chris Warren Jr., Olesya Rulin, Ryne Sanborn, Socorro Herrera, Joey Miyashima, Leslie Wing, KayCee Stroh, Anne Kathryn Parma, Nick Whitaker, Falon Grace

Troy is the quintessential jock, at least to the rest of his school mates. Gabriella, having met him over Christmas vacation, knows differently. After unlocking in each other the desire to sing, they face a challenge. Looking to sing together in the high school musical, they test the restraints of the teenage hierarchy and the caste system of their school.

This movie came out to such mixed reviews that I HAD to add it to my instant queue. Young teens and children loved this movie so much it catapulted the leads (Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens) into being nearly house-hold names. On the other hand, older teens and adults turned their nosed up in disgust. In fact, the mere attempt to bring this movie up around people in certain age groups tends to draw the same ire as Twilight. You know what? That’s a good comparison. They’re both movies that everyone seems to hate in public, but that have undeniably become ridiculously popular.  

I didn’t get it. Before I watched “High School Musical” I had no idea how so many people could absolutely adore it while others thought it was bottom of the barrel trash. I’ve never actually met someone who had an “on the fence” opinion about it; hate or love, if there’s any opinion in the middle, I haven’t found it.

I won’t lie; I gave in to everything I’d heard. I’m twenty-eight years old; I’m obviously not hanging around teenagers, so just about everything I heard made it seem like it would be the worst movie in creation. This wasn’t the first time I attempted to watch it. I’ve actually turned it on about six times before now and wound up turning it off within the first ten minutes. That’s not something I’m proud of, but it’s what happened. I gave in to peer pressure.

All that said I’m glad I rolled it because it cleared up the mystery for me. I get it now. I completely understand why the world has love/hate relationship with this movie. Furthermore, I see both points of view.

Technically, this movie is so parallel to Grease, that I have chosen to believe it is paying homage to it. One reviewer stated, “There's no denying the tween audience was hungering for this movie, without even knowing it.” (Groucho Reviews, Peter Canavese) I don’t think anyone else could have put it better. My generation was still growing up with “Grease.” The original came out in 1978, but its sequel came out in 1982, just a year before I was born. We had that silly, musical, “be yourself” film. By the 90’s, younger kids were starting to look for the same thing and it’s a shame they didn’t get anything until 2006. “High School Musical” is like the kid-version of “Grease”; the same thing, just about the same plot, with more overacting and a different demographic.

On the hate side of the coin, it’s easy to be angry with this movie. With such obvious parallels to a timeless classic, the movie didn’t hold a candle to it. I like both Hudgens and Efron. I’ve seen them in other movies and have absolutely adored them. Efron absolutely stole my heart as Richard Samuels in “Me and Orson Wells,” and Hudgens was out of this world as Blondie in “Sucker Punch.” However, in this movie, they barely made me care at all. The other actors were even worse. It was like watching, not to be cute, a high school play. Maybe that’s what they were going for; if it was they made a big mistake. The characters ultimately lacked depth, as well.

On the love side, the message delivered by this movie was outstanding. “Grease” gave one story but, with the same basic plot and even with all its parallels, “High School Musical” really had a better moral. Perhaps because it was geared toward a much younger audience, this movie made it clear that there was a lesson to be learned. Add to that some catchy music and even the parts that are so bad they’re difficult to watch, make the rest of it worth it.

The sad truth is that I liked the moral better than the movie. Of course, I’m not the target demographic, so maybe that’s not such a bad thing. The problem is, how to rate it?

I’ve decided to use my average rating as the “Overall Opinion.” For children who are 15 or younger, I rate this move a 4.5, easy; for anyone older than that, I rate this movie a 2, maybe a 2.5.

Overall Opinion – 3.5/5

P.S. There’s an extra scene after the credits finish rolling.

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