Friday, March 2, 2018

High School Musical

This fun, musical about life in high school seems like it was meant to be the clean, modern version of Grease. When I say clean, I mean really clean – no bad language, one kiss on the cheek and everyone grows in character. Even the clothing choices are mostly appropriate.

When Troy and Gabriella meet on holidays at a ski resort, they are unceremoniously shoved together and made to sing karaoke. Initial horror turns to fun and interest as it turns out that (wow!), they can both sing really well. Fast forward to the next semester and Gabriella (no way!) turns up as a new student at Troy’s school. Troy is captain of the basketball team whereas Gabriella excels in maths and science. But both start to wonder if they should try out for the high school musical. Obviously, there is a lot of romantic interest between them, but as I said, it’s all very chaste.

Friends try to convince them to stay in their own cliques (with a catchy song ‘stick to the status quo’). The overarching message of the movie though is that it's OK to be a bit different, and to do the things that you like – whether it’s singing, dancing, baking, academics or sport. Positive messages abound throughout– kids learn to encourage their friends into different interests, the teachers while caricatured at points do help the kids out, and parents are positive role models. The basketball coach / dad in particular makes it clear to his son in the end that he wants him to enjoy playing rather than concentrate on winning. The brother/ sister duo of Ryan and Sharpay who run the Drama club even learn to cope with the intrusion on their domain, and their antics are fun to watch in the process.

The songs aren’t really anything special (the music from Grease is certainly much much better). One review suggested the songs sounded like offcuts from a Paula Abdul album and the lip syncing is pretty bad. But the energy is fun, lighthearted and enjoyable.

Moving on, it's as much fun watching #2 and 3. Continuing with comparisons, it seems to me that High School Musical 2 is trying to be a conservative Dirty Dancing. It's summer and Sharpay is living at the country club. She wants Troy in the show and fixes it so he has a job there. He manages to get all of the crew from East High employed for the summer. This one is much more about Ryan and Sharpay's shenanigans and there is tension developing between Troy who is favoured, and Gabriella and the rest of the gang.

High School Musical 3 is Senior Year and while looking forward to prom and graduation, there is uncertainty about everyone's future. Where will they go to college? What will happen to Troy and Gabriella's relationship?

As with the first, there are a lot of songs and dance routines. Few will stay with you for long (unless your children listen to them on constant repeat), but they are fun to watch and the choreography of all the large dance scenes is pretty impressive.

All three (ages 10, 12 and 14) enjoyed these and laughed at the jokes. Husband and I liked the positive messages and that they were funny (sometimes laughing at, sometimes laughing with). Troy and Gabriella kiss properly in #2 & 3, but as with the first, there is no bad language, the interactions are pretty chaste, and all the characters tend to improve and learn. Definitely a bit of enjoyable family fun.

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