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DVD Review: High School Musical – Shut Up Already!

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It seems unfair for someone not of the tween set to review the Disney Channel production High School Musical, which was released for the second time on DVD in December in a two-disc "remix" edition.

This isn't meant to be taken as bellyaching or bemoaning the difficulties of being a critic; rather, it has to do with intended audience. High School Musical isn't made for someone my age, 25, but instead for someone 15 years younger. And maybe that's the person who should review the movie, since the film is aimed at them.

I was in high school once, but the high school I attended bears no resemblance to the one in the film, East High School, a tweenager utopia of good-lookers and sexpots in training (the student body is so hot, in fact, even the bow-tie-wearing, tape-holding-glasses-together nerds are hulking studs). The two stars of this heavenly house of homework are Troy Bolton (Zac Efron), the school's boytoy basketball prodigy, and Gabriella Montez (Vanessa Anne Hudgens), the new kid with brains and looks.

I also don't recall students singing and dancing down the halls to deal with their problems the way they do in High School Musical. Of course, when I was a wee senior, my problems revolved around college and the "real world"; here, basketball players worry about being found out as secretly enjoying baking and sk8tr punks tip-toe around their enjoyment of playing classical instruments. Judging by how well everyone gets along in the film, maybe I should have tried pirouetting down the hallways to escape being down in the dumps. (I would have probably ended up in the dump.)

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingYes, High School Musical sounds a little too out there for an old-timer like myself, and that's even before you start thinking about the plot. Then, things become downright silly.

At a winter break gathering at a Colorado ski resort, another hotspot for hotties, Troy and Gabriella, there with their parents, are partaking in what they enjoy most: tortuously redundant basketball drills for Troy, reading on the down-low for Gabriella.

But when their mothers force them to go have fun on their last night at the lodge — at the kid's party, no less (the horror!) — Troy and Gabriella are picked for couples karaoke. They're both super-shy (despite Troy being super-popular and, allegedly, super-gregarious), but they start to really get into it and, gee whiz wouldn't you know it, they fall for each other's big, dreamy eyes and explosive voices. But, alas, after exchanging numbers and taking pictures with their camera phones, Gabriella retreats into the night leaving Troy alone.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingWhen the school year restarts, Gabriella is starting at a new school in Albuquerque, and, holy cow, Troy's there! After some awkward posturing built around social conventions (the basketball star cannot, under any circumstance, be entangled with the new girl, especially one as nerdy as Gabriella), the two reminisce about how much fun it was singing and get the idea to try out for the school's musical.

Again, those nasty social strictures rear their heads: the basketball star can't jeopardize his team by doing something as fruity as singing and dancing, and the new girl can't just go around asserting herself as the lead of a musical.

Everything works out in the end, of course, despite some pretty awful tricks and ploys hatched by Troy and Gabriella's "friends" in order to keep them apart, break up their chances at being in the musical, and reestablishing the social order in the school.

The film is fueled by mediocre musical numbers, complete with tired dance steps and hokey, overly-simple lyrics. The best example is the one number with the most potential, and therefore the most disappointing in its execution, "Get'cha Head in the Game." The number begins with a chorus of basketballs bouncing up and down off of the hardwood court, followed by players handing the ball back and forth in a moment of choreography inspired by early-'50s Hollywood (especially the gym number in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes"). Then the singing starts, which is nothing more than a mind-numbing repetition of "get'cha head in the game" built around hackneyed R&B/pop-lite lyrics. Before and after this moment, the numbers are boring in their derivativity. Only "Get'cha Head in the Game" offers something interesting, but director/choreographer Kenny Ortega sees fit to muck it up and dumb it down.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingIt's in that dumbing-down that High School Musical poses the biggest problem. The musical numbers aren't the only thing diluted for the pre-teen Disney Channel audience — every aspect of the film, from characters and situations to dialogue and setting, are absolutely, unfathomably unreal. This insidious piece of tween pop is what high school looks like to starry-eyed, Tiger Beat-reading 11-year-old girls as they primp and prep for the move up from junior high.

There's something to be said for glossing over the problems high school poses for so many — cliques, bullies, awkward interactions with the opposite sex — but there's also value in not presenting that same environment as a happy-go-lucky place where people might want to hurt you if they catch you singing and dancing, but all you'll have to do to diffuse that situation is show them how happy singing and dancing makes you.

The Disney Channel chose to ignore a modicum of realism in High School Musical, and with it they marginalized entire groups of people in the process: kids who are awkward, kids who aren't good in school, kids who aren't good at sports, kids with family problems, kids with health problems, kids who look different, kids who act different, and on and on and on. What is being said to the kids who adore this film by rejecting those who look/act/sound different than the pretty faces populating East High? Whatever it is, it can't be good.

But, really, why does any of that matter when those kids can have the "Remix Edition" of High School Musical on DVD? They can watch the film in sparkling visual quality, and listen to it in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound, perfect for those weekend slumber parties. And the extras, we can't forget about them. On the two discs are featurette after featurette, and sing-along after sing-along that will get you in the mood to buy every version of the soundtrack that's available, every book, magazine, poster, and God knows what else that's been printed to cash in on the movie's popularity, and, above all, get you really excited about going to the big kids' school. Like, for real!

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingCertainly, the Disney Channel thought they were creating a film that would teach kids something about empowerment and self-worth in a society that constantly wants to grind those things down. But there is also a rather large issue to deal with: preparing kids to embrace differences in the people around them. The film's last number, "We're All In This Together," deals with this issue, but it does so with people who look, act, talk, and sing and dance the same. Disney can't say "accept everyone" and then reject nearly everyone in the process.

On second thought, perhaps a tween is exactly the wrong person to review High School Musical. Kids are smarter and savvier today than ever, but they still need guidance from those who have lived more. It's an adult's responsibility to impart the right values and messages to kids as they grow up, and weed out accordingly anything that would undercut those values and messages. High School Musical is such a weed, and it should be yanked out before the sequel, High School Musical 2: Sing It All or Nothing! (currently in pre-production, according to the Internet Movie Database) has a chance to take root.

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  • http://noface4film.com Kaonashi

    Oh no, you reviewed this movie. The last person who reviewed this movie back in April 2006 is still getting “comments” from tweenagers who have turned the comment section into some kind of impromptu forum, chatting with each other, proclaiming their love for whoever is in the movie, and declaring that they’re so-and-so’s number one fan. Last I checked, poor Victor Lana’s review has 2033 “comments”.

    Good luck! :)

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    You’ve never spontaneously broken into song in high school?

    Loser.

  • Liz

    I am 45 and loved High school musical.I was in the drama and music dep in my high school days.I also liked Grease which came out back then

  • Shan

    High School Musical is a very good movie. Maybe you just don’t know how how to watch a movie. Everyone knows, just like poems, you don’t dig way down deep for the meaning. My 19 year old sister and all of her friends absolutely love the movie. My parents love the movie. My 25 year old brothers love the movie. So does my 20 year old brother. It doesn’t matter how old you are, you just have to know how to appreciate movies.
    As a matter of fact, I was at my sister’s basketball game last January, and near the concessions, a tv was on Disney Channel. A HSM song came on and EVERYONE started dancing and singing to it. Heck, yes, I am 13. But who cares. I am in the range for the movie, but I would still love it if I was older. HSM is one of those movies that is trying to teach kids that it doesnt matter who you are, you can do anything. Sure, Troy [Efron] is cute. And Gabriella [Hudgens] is really pretty. And they appeal to us. But that’s not why I love this movie. I love HSM for HSM and nothing else. I know for sure that I didn’t get out of it what you said almost every kid would. Which I will remind you is. “Disney can’t say “accept everyone” and then reject nearly everyone in the process.” This movie actually taught me not to be afraid of who I am. I now am not scared to show it. If you have enough time to discriminate against this movie as much as you did, maybe you didn’t watch the movie and just enjoy it. I know some of my friends wouldn’t give it a shot. Then I made them watch it and they wanted to watch it again. I think almost everyone would agree with me when I say this even if they don’t like it; HSM may be targeted towards kids. But many people that are older than the range loves the movie. And even if they don’t like the movie, they think it has good meaning. After all, Disney Channel isn’t meant to teach us ‘kids’ to use guns, swear, and teach us violence. Disney Channel is here to help us help ourseves by letting us know it’s perfectly okay to be ourselves. Remember: Never judge a book by it’s cover. <3

  • Mon

    I don’t know about anyone else but i LOVED HSM and I can’t wait until HSM2. And of course I am a 10 year old and all of my friends love HSM. When it first came out everyone was singing the songs from the movie (even the boys).Yes this isn’t a very realistic movie, but even the stars of the movie said that, the home team wins, Troy and Gabriella get to be in the musical and so on and so on. I think the person who wrote that whole “novel” on why HSM stinks, didnt watch the movie to enjoy it, but spent the whole time picking out what was wrong with the movie.I think tweens should review this movie because it was geared toward them NOT 25 year olds! It’s a Disney channel movie. i know everyone has their own oppinion but if u hated this movie, watch it again or watch the 2nd one and think would i like this if i was in elementary or middle school? MOST kids like this movie and most of thier parents do too.

  • amandaa

    maybee you disagree with this moviee because it`ss not like your ‘sex-spot’ sch0ol whichh is kindaa retartedd. it`s not only for 11 year old girls boys can watch it t0o so don`t ever sayy that. your asking why they have to make a ‘remix edition’ .. umm hell0o! maybee `causee everyyone loved it so muchh and they wanna watchh it again .. just a little different this time, whichh is also why they`ree making a HSM2 whichh everyone, including me, can`t wait to see. if you dont like it or the remix edition .. DON`T WATCHH IT ! everyyone knows that it`ss called commen senseee! anyy age or gender can watch it and practically every one that left comments disagree with you! even my best friend monica [[ numberr 5 ]] disagrees with you. evenn a 45 YEAR 0lD disagrees with you. you say it`s not realisic because the nerds in your school are bufff? well listen to me .. NO NERDS ARE SUPPOSEDD TO BE BUFF! and if they are or were .. they would`ve been popular so that right there is a liee and i could write S0OO muchh more but i gotta go
    YOU STINK AND HIGH SCH0OL MUSICAL IS C0OLERR THAN YOU!

  • jessica ellison

    I THINK ITS FANTANSTIC

  • jessica ellison

    I LOVE IT ,IT IS SO GOOD

  • loves_to_dance

    Yeah, i do actually think that this critic gave a really good review. i watched high school musical and although it was entertaining, i was a bit sad because i wished my school was like that and i wished my friends were like that. i actually got really depressed and it took a lot of talking and advice to cheer me up. then i wished i was as pretty as girls in movies and magazines, which made my self esteem hit an all time low. and i started to hate school. now ive gotten over it but i still have thoughts and wished my life was as perfect as the movies. but thats not real

  • http://eclecticlibrarian.net/ Anna Creech

    Great review. Based on your description of the events, I’m surprised you didn’t draw the obvious comparison to Grease. Seems like part of the problem with the flick is that Disney recycled that plot line for High School Musical.

  • Fatima

    Pshh get a life. Why the fuck would you waste your time writing about a movie you so suddenly hate? What a loser! HSM is the BEST!

  • http://www.templestark.com Temple Stark

    I was prepared to question Fatima’s swear-laden response to a kids movie. Um, but she’s got a really good point. It’ alright to hate something and review it. Absolutely. However, you spend half the review saying you’re not the intended audience and the other half proving it. It’s a long review and it seems a waste of your time for you to review it at such length.

    – Temple

  • Lauren

    I have one thing to say.. you over-analys. It’s a movie. Movies are usually not what real life is supposed to be. I take it that you don’t like Grease either. Thats kind of sad, seeing HSm and Grease are bot well- known movies, and probably because of their plot.

  • JJ

    I wish i was on Disney channel.

  • http://www.myspace.com/highschoolmusical Chris

    I am 20 years old. I loved High School Musical. I can also point out almost everything that is wrong with the movie. HSM has affected a lot of people in a good way. I have actually devoted a lot of time and money into HSM. I run an HSM fan site. http://www.myspace.com/highschoolmusical
    I have not been on lately unfortunatly to technical difficulties since I revamped my site in honor of the remix edition. I have worked them out and will probably be spending at least a week catching up with all of the e-mails, friend requests, and comments from all of the fans that I HSM has created. HSM has set several records. Ashley Tisdale is the only female to be featured twice on the billboard HOT 100. Breaking free made the biggest jump in billboard history:64 to 4. There are also lots other record breaking info and facts on my site. However you are intitled to your own oppinion. Your review was probably a little to deep. And you took several things the wrong way. The movie was meant for entertainment, not life lessons. Life lessons do make money. It is a year after the movie was made and this is the first time I have ever heard of a one year reunion for a movie. Tune into the Disney Channel on Saturday January 20th, for High School Musical Around the World. This movie though flawed, is truely inspiring.

  • sandy crack

    dont u talk trash to us [Edited]

  • http://tvandfilmguy.blogspot.com/ TV and Film Guy

    This piece has been selected as an editor’s pick. Congratulations!

  • sophie

    hiya

  • http://lol.com HELLO

    Hiya people this a person just wanted to say tht i reali didnt like the movie i mean i did but not sooo much tht i would crazzzzziiiiii FOR it…. Plus the songs werent tht great either and LAST BUT NOT LEAST……… THTS SOOOOOOO NOT how hiskool is like totaly not….. U hollywood people make it soooo wrong…. i should know im in hiskool now, but hey i did like the movie, AGAIN LIKED NOT LOVED!!!!

  • http://url julie

    the worst movie ever

  • http://Canda Jen

    How much money did the movie make?

  • Riley Fields.

    Hi my name is Riley Fields. I’m from Russia and I’ve been here for six month. And I’m spek a little English. I love to watch your movie is so cool. I like so much Vanessa she so pretty, and her sister too.But I don’t like so much Ashely she too so cute and so funy, I like watch ‘Sweet life of Zac and Cody’. Zac his too so cute I like that Zac and Vanessa is a frinds they look so cute together but Ashely not so cute like Vanessa.Thank you so much love Riley.

  • Riley Fields.

    Hi Ashely I’m so sorry that I don;tlike you so much but you so cute and I miss you so much love Riley.

  • http://qwerfde DJ Benny in the houseeeee!!!!!

    Hi Everybody my name is Benjamin stuchbery and i live in Newzealand and i’m 10 years old.I thougt that HSM Wasn’t that good.Well the first time i saw it i was craaaaaazy about it!!!But know i think disney channel soooo over did it.But still im looking ford to HSM2!!

    Benny out!!

  • Sarah k.

    i wach Disney Channel every day and i AM aoing to be an actress and I WILL BE ON DISNEY CHANNEL!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • http://www.myspace.com/pleasedefinepurple Josh

    yepp…this film has “suck” written all over it:)

  • sue

    HSM is a awesome movie for TEENAGERS not nessesarily older people. its a MOVIE not real life so u shouldnt expect it to be 100% realistic DUH

  • http://Da-name-is-Hannah.bebo.com Hannah Edwards

    The plot outline of HSM 2 (may be long but it’s worth it)

    Ryan and Sharpay are Jealous of Troy and Gabriella’s new talent…
    So they want to break them up!!!
    SHOCKING!!!
    Sharpay fakes drowning in a pool which means lifeguard Troy has to save her, and give mouth to mouth (Which she will love!)
    At that same, Ryan makes Gabriella think that Troy is cheating on her with Sharpay (All part of their little plan!!)
    HE-HE-HE!!
    OH…BUT..WAIT
    There is a competition at the country club
    (By the way that is where the film will take place – Ryan and Sharpays parents own it) But not just any competition… A talent competitioin will Troy and Gabriella ed up back together and sing at the competition?….]
    Or will Sharpay and Troy be feeling the start of something new?
    Hold on if Troy gets Gabriella then waht happens to Ryan, Chad, and Taylor?…
    When Ryan Falls for a girl named Aurora – Who Sharpay keeps him away form, as she is on the other team for competition and Auroras brother keeps her away form Ryan!
    However…in the end…
    Ryan kisses Aurora…
    Chad kisses Taylor…
    And Troy kisses Gabriella
    AWWW YAH!
    Sounds totallly awsome can’t wait
    COMING SUMMER 2007!

  • http://journals.aol.com/vicl04/THESAVAGEQUIETSEPTEMBERSUN/ Victor Lana

    “Poor” Victor Lana here. I am kind of amazed what happened with my post, but it is what it is. Here’s hoping that 2,000 comments later you will feel the same, Dante. Wildcats in the house!

  • ren

    i totally agree!!!

  • http://34 searia

    Becaues they are hot

  • Marilyn M.

    I am an actual high school student and I love the movie High School Musical. It is quiet childish and unrealistic in certain scenes, but as another person said the point of movies is to entertain..not teach life lessons. Yes, there are movies that do both, but did you not notice the life lesson that High School Musical taught the audience? It teaches people to go for their dreams and not let what other people have to say effect how they feel about their dream. Not to mention how it shows one can be peer pressured into persuing something they might now want to.

    No offense, but you over analyzed the movie so much that you missed the main point. And yes…adults can like this movie too.

    Every movie has some unrealstic quality. I know you were being sarcastic, but every musical will have someone randomly break out into song so I don’t know why you brought that up as a point at all. It is Hollywood. Hollywood has beautiful people in every movie. It is up to the parents and adults to teach young boys and girls the real lessons in life…or maybe adults should just let kids realize that high school is not like high school musical by letting them find this out on their own by letting them experience it.
    Warm Wishes

  • Ashleytusdaleluva2k7

    well……1.Movies aren’t supposed to be real life DUH! n i dont know which school you went to but at my school for months me n ma m8s (12-13yr olds) were dancing round the school and the school field singin it!, cos of that movie i wanna be a singer/actress cos dreams can come true!

    Danny out! –

  • http://.com.com bad movie!!

    this movie is awful

  • http://vf umm

    is everyone wowed at troy and gabriella’s relatoinship it seem as though everyone is like “oh there so in love!” its like get a life!!!

  • http://fhf hfh

    no thanks hsm! please dont make a third

  • http://AR Angel

    Sharpays song faboulous is the best i know the hole song and i look just like her i really do and corbin loos hot!

  • http://AR Angel

    There will be another hunted high school musical i think its gone to be cool.

  • http://f9uejfuidsjfv fofo

    it a great movie and i love ZAC EFRON i want to marry him . fuck to vanessa hudgens becouse she is {……}

  • Tara VanDeWaterBottle

    iiii lesss thannn threeeee alexxx parraaaaa.! 3

  • NewHSMfan

    hey yall.
    loll

  • jae sapseid

    high school musical stinks why do they put it on disney channel anyway even though i do like the way sharpay dresses!

  • jae sapseid

    why do people like HSM it is so RUBBISH people who like it out there are a bunch of losers P.S. LOSERS are who like HSM

  • jae sapseid

    high school musical is the worst and boring tele vision show u can get on disney channel why do most girls and boys like it even a boy in my class likes it even oliver my little brother dosent like it he thinks it is rubbish and he is only six

  • Emiline k.

    this person gave an okay review. I’ve never watched the movie, but from the way my friends talk about it, I can infer that a lot of people at my school think it STINKS. im not really sure, though. But this was a waste of time, I can say that.

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