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High School Musical 3: Senior Year /

Rated: G

Starring: Zac Efron, Vanessa Anne Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Corbin Bleu, Lucas Grabeel

Directed by: Kenny Ortega

Produced by: Bill Borden, Barry Rosenbush
Written by: Peter Barsocchini
Distributor: Buena Vista Pictures

     Iím so glad that my desire to fill reviews with prior-knowledge didnít come to fruition last week and force me to watch High School Musicals 1 and 2 before venturing out to see part three, the first theatrical release in the series. Had I made such an attempt to substantiate my opinion on High School Musical 3: Senior Year by observing how it stacked up against its predecessors, I probably wouldnít be writing a positive review of it now. Given that this third entry in the series is a bit of a one-trick pony itselfóit gets monotonous by its final actóIím sure it wouldíve been less enjoyable had I previously seen the other two undoubtedly identical installments.

 

     Because I didnít see the first two High School MusicalsóI donít think many males in my age-group haveóIím not in a position to fault this one for being too similar to its predecessors. And thank God for that, because Iím happy to praise it. To my HSM-virgin eyes, Senior Year played as a tremendously entertaining, cheesy-good piece of disposable entertainment for ninety of its 110 minutes. I was stunned when the picture overwhelmed my expectations not only by proving far more original than the standard TV-movie (installments one and two went direct to the Disney Channel), but by actually involving me in its story. (Keep in mind: I represent the antithesis of its target demographic.) Yes, the exercise grew tired about twenty minutes before it ended and it wasnít exactly high-art, but I was ecstatic to find that, indeed, High School Musical 3 was more than just an artificial cash-in opportunity for Disney.

 

     Upon reaching such a conclusion, I realized that High School Musical 3 is a solid family film. Its target audience of young girls wonít mind the fact that itís derivative; they will seize the opportunity to catch up with main characters Troy (Zac Efron), Gabriella (Vanessa Anne Hudgens), and Sharpay (Ashley Tisdale) even if the trio is engaged in the same shtick as always. The rest of the family likely wonít have seen the other installments and will enjoy the merits of this theatrical introduction to the series, just as I did. Thereís plenty to become immersed in here, from Efronís hilarious cornball pouting to Hudgensí old-fashioned purity to Tisdaleís bad-girl deviousness to supporting-actor Lucas Grabeelís flamingly vibrant (and, yes, somewhat shocking) musical performances. There are even a few dance scenes that I would call tremendously choreographed (thanks in large part to seasoned director Kenny Ortega), primarily a jaw-dropping one in which a conflicted Efron is showered in basketballs as the entire frame rotates like a wheel. Indeed, every member of the family will find something to latch on to.

 

     I donít mean to praise High School Musical 3 too highly or create insurmountable expectations because, after all, the movie is only meant to be a silly and fun piece of pop-entertainment. It was intended to be the last film in the series with the original cast and the only one to ever play in theatres, and I think this intention should be upheld no matter how well it ultimately does at the box office. (If I ever find that I need Troy, Garbiella, or Sharpay back in my life, Iíll just rent the other two.) High School Musical 3 isnít anything that merits going out of oneís way to see, but it exceeds expectations and deserves singling out because of such. That I can like a movie made for little girls about an emo high-schooler expressing his feelings on young love and his competing passions for basketball and theatre  through many a pop-song is a testament to just how well done said movie is.

 

-Danny Baldwin, Bucket Reviews

Review Published on: 10.28.2008

Screened on: 10.24.2008 at the UltraStar La Costa 6 in Carlsbad, CA.

 


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