High School Musical 2 is better than the original in many ways. The songs are catchier; the characters and their voices are more developed; and the choreography, lyrics, comedy, and cinematography all take a step in the right direction. However, the sequel’s plot is largely uninspired and both its teen romance and the moral of the story are dulled considering the film revolves around a kiss more than a learning experience.
When Troy (Zac Efron) gets hired as a waiter and caddy at the Lava Springs Country Club owned by Sharpay (Ashley Tisdale) and Ryan’s (Lucas Grabeel) parents, he brings Gabriella (Vanessa Hudgens), Chad (Corbin Bleu), Taylor (Monique Coleman), Kelsi (Olesya Rulin), Jason (Ryne Sanborn), Martha (Kaycee Stroh), and Zeke (Christopher Warren Jr.) along for the ride.
As the gang works as a lifeguard, waiter, event coordinator, entertainer, dishwasher, plate-preparer, and cook respectively, Troy quickly stands out as the star staff member with the Evans family. Plus, once he learns that Sharpay could possibly land him a basketball scholarship, Troy promises to sing a song with her at the annual talent show.
In the face of fame and fortune, Troy begins to sully his relationships with Gabriella and friends. Meanwhile, Sharpay tries to steal Troy’s love from Gabriella. But, that’s not possible; or is it? Don’t forget, “It’s summer… everything changes.”
One thing is for sure with High School Musical 2 — Sharpay has become exponentially more annoying. She now signs autographs, wears a crown, has the staff wait on her hand and foot, and sheepishly calls her mother “a back-stabbing yogi.” While all of this prissy behavior is vomit-inducing, that’s the intention, considering she is – after all – the film’s “villain.” However, more and more, Sharpay begins to resemble Eloise from the Me, Eloise series — blonde, snobby, conceited, and always looking for trouble.
On an upward note, “You Are the Music in Me,” “Gotta Go My Own Way,” and “Everyday” work. In addition, Sharpay’s “Gimme a beat” line is the highlight of her disposition. Finally, catching Coach Bolton in the off-season is a blessing to the script — allowing him to solely take on the role of “Dad.”
On the downward side, all of the characters look far more aged than six months. The DVD still contains the fade-outs allotted for commercial breaks, considering the movie was made for TV. “Humuhumunukunukuapua’a,” “I Don’t Dance,” and “Bet On It,” all crash and burn. Additionally, even a Miley Cyrus cameo can’t bring “All for One” up to speed.
Taking the high school setting on the road to a “summerized” country club certainly makes viewers long for the locker-laden halls where it all began. Yet, with 2, Disney still cashes in big time on its attempt to provide just as much fun as the original. However, much like how Vanessa Anne Hudgens dropped the “Anne” for this feature, one wishes that Disney could have dropped the cheesiness just the same.
While High School Musical 2 may have been a Nielsen hit and the Teen Choice Award winner for “Best T.V. Movie,” let’s see what director Kenny Ortega has in store for High School Musical 3’s theatrical release. With an increased budget for the silver screen, one would think that the result would be a superior product. There’s no question that 3 will succeed financially, but let’s hope that the third installment will graduate with class and not eke its way through its senior year.