HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 3: SENIOR YEAR (2008)
High School Musical 3: Senior Year is a musical about a bunch of high school seniors who put on a musical about their senior year, presumably. If you’re wondering why I haven’t watched any other High School Musicals this year, it’s not necessarily because they don’t suck, it’s because they weren’t theatrically released. But this one sure was. Oh, joy!
There isn’t much of a story here. Mostly a bunch of high school seniors put on a musical about their lives. Unfortunately for the show, high schoolers have pretty boring lives. Further robbing the film of interest, the few interesting things that teens do occasionally do (drugs, sex, vandalism, etc.) are too risqué for a G-rated Disney movie. Sad times.
Also, boring times.
Having not seen High School Musicals 1 and 2, I have no idea who any of these people are, but it would appear that they are just a bunch of insufferable teenagers. Leading this dull pack is Troy (Zac Efron), a popular basketball player. I thought that he was kind of creepily close to the coach (Bart Johnson) until I realized that they were father and son. Turns out he’s being pressured to go to a big basketball school, but he kind of maybe wants to go to a big theatre school? What will he do?
Just stand there and make a dreamy face, probably.
Then there’s Gabriella (Vanessa Hudgens). She’s smart and wants to go to a smart person school, but also maybe wants to go wherever Troy’s going, ’cause they’re dating, and presumably boning a bunch off camera. What to do?
Break the cycle, Gabriella, rise above, focus on academics.
Sharpay (Ashley Tisdale) is some creepy diva who, for some reason, the school allows to have a special rich person locker. She hires an English girl to be her personal assistant, despite the fact that this is a public high school. She’s a shitty person who mostly just wants to be better than everyone else. There seems to be no real point to her presence in this movie. Her brother, Ryan (Lucas Grabeel) is a choreographer who wants to choreograph. And be famous. And be fabulous? I don’t know.
I’d take them as a jab at the 1% if it weren’t for
the fact that everybody in this film is fucking rich.
Troy has a friend (Corbin Bleu) who he dances around in junkyards with, but whom I would be hard-pressed to tell you anything more about. He must be important though, because he’s on the cover of the damn DVD case.
WHO ARE YOU?
Some other girl (Monique Coleman) runs the yearbook maybe?
This person is presumably a character of some sort.
So, all of these kids are high schoolers who get roped into performing in a high school musical because yet another character (Olesya Rulin) volunteers them all. Rather than just tell the teacher that they didn’t sign themselves up for this shitty musical, they all subject themselves to months of preparation for a godawful pageant about their own shitty lives.
The only thing more unbearable than high school sports is a musical about them.
But wait! An admissions officer from Juilliard is going to attend their show, and one of them will get to go to Juilliard… surprise! The girl who forged everyone’s names and the choreographer both won. It is a twist ending because two people won, and you care about neither of them.
“I’m a character in this movie?” *gasp!*
Gabriella goes to the smart person school because despite all the drama, she’s still smart enough not to follow the whims of her high school boyfriend. Troy, instead of choosing a school where he can fully focus on either sports or drama, chooses one where he can half-assedly do both. It’s also really near Gabriella’s school, because he’s not smart enough to realize that their relationship probably isn’t going anywhere.
These little shits are taking this far too seriously, which makes sense, I suppose. They haven’t yet realized that, with few exceptions, the minutiae of their high school lives will have no effect on their future whatsoever. Hell, the whole opening number is the basketball team going on about how important the final minutes of their basketball game are, because it’s going to be their legacy. “The way we play tonight is what we leave behind,” they cheer, as if this moment is about to be immortalized in the school’s collective memory.
Aw, he doesn’t get that literally no one will give a shit about this game next year.
Literally the only decision these kids make that will have a lasting influence on their lives is their choice of college, and this decision, though the source of much drama, is taken fairly lightly. Gabriella makes the very sensible decision to matriculate into college early, only to have Troy constantly give her shit for it, because he’s in teen-love with her, and because she’s bailed on all her high school friends. She attempts to make a clean break, telling him that she doesn’t want to come back for prom because it would be emotionally difficult to live with one foot in high school and one in college (entirely reasonable response). But what does he do? He stalks her and pressures her to come to prom anyway. What a thoughtful guy!
He’s in a tree, waiting to remind you how important high school is.
Rather than condemning Troy’s behavior as childish, and something he ought to grow the fuck out of, the film seems to glorify his “live for today, and by today we mean high school” attitude. And whatever, I suppose it’s just a feel-good movie for teens, but shit, it’s probably important to remind kids that school isn’t forever. It’s a step on the path to who you grow up to be. If your high school basketball game, or musical, or social life is seen as the be-all end-all of your existence, you’re going to be pretty fucking depressed when it all fades away on you. But whatever. Make your own call. I’m spending my free time writing about High School Musical 3, so I obviously don’t have all the answers here either.
WHY DON’T PEOPLE LIKE IT?:
I know this is just a bunch of auto-tuned pop-song fun for the tweens, but for fuck’s sake, I can’t remember a single song from this thing. I honestly doubt this film will elicit real hate from anyone; it’s more forgettable than anything else. It’s a piece of fluff that, much like all those high school antics that it glorifies, will end up completely forgotten, or like many a prom, be remembered with some discomfort and embarrassment.
I mean, a cave theme? What were we thinking?
MOST REGRETTABLE MOMENT:
At this point, flamboyantly gay choreographer is a bit of a hackneyed stereotype, but do you know what’s worse? Writing a movie with a flamboyantly gay choreographer in it and then deciding to backpedal on the gay part, because you’re Disney. It really seems like this is what happened with Ryan. The general consensus seems to be that Ryan is a coded gay character, but near the end, the film makes a big deal of having him ask a girl to the prom. Regarding this, Lucas Grabeel, who played Ryan, has said, “Obviously it’s a Disney movie they can’t have an openly gay character in the movie and that’s a whole other discussion about where the times are in this country.” Jeez, I guess I’d better stop complaining about stereotypes, because at least that’s some form of representation.
Dammit, Disney, it’s 2008, it’s okay if you admit
that there are some gay people working in theatre.
I really don’t have any further thought to expend on this pile.
Hannah Montana: The Movie (2009)
Wanna read Cinemanaut Bill’s take on all the terrible songs in High School Musical 3: Senior Year? Then check out his Musical 52 article!