WARNING: This review may contain spoilers. High School Musical 2 will air on Disney Friday evening, August 17, 2007.
Soon Disney's long-awaited sequel to High School Musical, High School Musical 2, will air for millions of viewers of all ages. The original movie drew about 7.8 million viewers and I think it is safe to say the sequel will easily top that number.
My daughters, ages 4 and 7, were late-comers to the original High School Musical movie. We first saw the movie in February of 2007 through the "On Demand" video service of our cable TV system. Personally, I never intended to really watch the whole video, but found myself drawn in by the story, the characters, and the wonderful music, which kicks off within minutes of the video's start.
High School Musical is charming, fun, energetic, wholesome, and entertaining from beginning to end. Not only do we now own the DVD, we purchased the movie on iTunes and the album as well. Now my oldest is planning a HSM party for her birthday this coming January.
So, while I welcomed the thought of a sequel, I also had my doubts. Sometimes you just get lucky with a movie. You come up with a concept, sell it, produce it, air it and suddenly realize that it has that unique mix of elements that makes it an instant classic.
So what do you do when the green light comes for another movie? Try as hard as you can to capture all the same elements as before and hope it works again.
Unfortunately, the sequel tries too hard. It will not live up to the expectations of fans, though many of those fans will love this sequel anyway.
The story picks up at the tail-end of the same school year in which the original movie left off. It is one minute until school ends for the summer and anticipation builds by the second.
The bell rings, papers fly, and the cast kicks in to their first song of the movie. From there, the movie winds into a story that seems to get a tad too complicated at times.
Ryan and Sharpay's parents own a country club and Sharpay, in her effort to win Troy's affections, orders the manager, Fulton, to hire Troy on. Fulton hires Troy, but also hires all of Troy's friends and teammates, including, of course, Gabriella.
From there, the storyline gets even more complicated. Friendships are strained, Troy and Gabriella's wonderfully innocent relationship is strained, and the incredibly manipulative Sharpay seems willing to cast even her brother aside in order to get what she wants.
In this sequel, Sharpay reaches new levels of obnoxiousness. She is so manipulative and selfish that now, when I want to make my girls stop and think about what they're doing, I say to them, "You're acting just like Sharpay!" So far, that line has worked quite effectively.
All that said, this is a decent movie. Yes, the plot gets overly complicated and the music is not quite as good as the first movie, but this is still a movie that I would recommend.
People will enjoy the movie, viewership will be higher for the sequel than it was for the original, and, ultimately, I expect we'll see a High School Musical 3 in 2008. And I have a feeling that the third movie will be better than the second.
Can anything top the first movie? Probably not. But set your expectations properly and you'll enjoy High School Musical 2.