The ultimate Disney fantasy film?
Posted on Feb 26 2009 by Greg
How different is High School Musical 3
from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
or The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes
Not much when you think about it. They all depict what has been referred in the past as Disney's "idealization of life." The High School Musical
films let you live for a while in a school without the harshness of real-life student politics, teacher issues and especially the dark, cynical vision so often seen on television, films and books inexplicably accepted as "kid-friendly."
Therein lies its charm. Whatever your opinion of the High School Musical
series, you can't help but marvel at how young people have taken to it -- despite its omission of language, sex and bitterness that some in the industry insist are requirements to "get the kids." If only prime time TV would get the message perhaps it would not be at an all time low in viewership.
Since this, the third film, was given a more generous budget, much of the money shows up on the screen, especially in the lavish production numbers like "I Want it All," and particularly "Scream,' in which director Kenny Ortega
pays tribute to Fred Astaire
by flipping over the school hallway (and Zac Efron
). The cast are as charming as ever. I was particularly happy to see the character of Mrs. Darbus (Alyson Reed
) get a brief but nice opportunity to explore more warmth and depth than afforded in the previous chapters.
And since this is the farewell film for the main "students" (though some of the others may emerge from the background in the 4th film planned for TV), there are at least three finales. These kids sing their goodbyes a lot before a curtain literally falls over the whole thing, never to be quite the same again until, perhaps, the High School Musical
reunion movie we can certainly look forward to in about 8 to 10 years (wonder who'll be "available" to reprise their roles?)
In the tradition of frothy musical fun, the story is secondary to watching the characters cavort. Sharpay, who despite learning her lesson in each film and "turning nice," goes back to square one repeatedly -- like Wile E. Coyote
. This time, she gets a British assistant to facilitate villainous monologuing because her brother is leaning on the "nice kids" side this time.
The whole thing is a lot of fun. My daughter and her friends are starting to get too cool for HSM but still enjoy this movie, much as they're not into Miley
so much but they like her sitcom just fine (Monkee
career warning, Miley.)
The DVD offers bloopers and short documentaries about the production and the farewell nature of the project, plus an extra reprise of "Right Here, Right Now" not seen in the theatrical version. A 2-disc edition also includes a digital download.
Though it's always debatable whether any group of ambitious young performers in a film or TV series are as chummy as they are publcized to be, I can't help but believe their mixed feelings about leaving HSM behind. It's what they knew, it's what "made" them, and the future is exciting but pretty scary.
Just like graduation. Or corporate re-orgs.