Written by Pollo Misterioso
There is something so pleasing about Disney’s made-for-television movies. It is just like watching an episode of one of the Disney shows, but longer and usually with more attractive actors. Delivering on all levels that a Disney-original movie should, High School Musical 2 is a fun, lighthearted film that brings a hip feel to the musical genre, geared towards young adults.
Disney didn’t realize how big of a hit the first High School Musical would be. It spawned a fad, the soundtrack being one of the best-selling CDs of the year. Naturally, they decided to follow it up with a sequel that brings back the entire original cast and surprisingly it stands on its own.
The film picks up where the previous one left off; it’s summertime now and the Wildcats all need to get jobs, even middle-class basketball stars need to work. Apparently it is the only way you get into college. Troy Bolton (Zach Efron) gets a job working at a resort and he brings his entire gang along, getting them jobs too. As for the leading lady, Gabriella (Vanessa Anne Hudgens) she just wants to have a summer that is worth remembering because this is the first time that she hasn’t moved schools. The favorite brother-and-sister combination, Sharpay and Ryan Evans (Ashley Tisdale and Lucas Grabeel) are members of the resort and plan on competing in the end-of-summer talent show, of course there are ulterior motives for Sharpay, she wants Troy.
Unlike the last film, which was about these kids coming out of their shells—which happened to be singing for both Gabriella and Troy— now it is about growing up and being true to yourself. Troy runs into trouble when his dreams of going to college and the future overshadow what is going on in the present, like spending time with Gabriella and playing two-on-two with his basketball boys. Ah, the problems of being a teenager!
Nobody has really difficult troubles in the film. The teenagers get to let off steam through song. Take for instance, Troy’s solo “Bet on It” where he belts out his frustration about his future plans on a golf course. One of the most dramatic duets between Troy and Gabriella ends with her hopping into her mother’s minivan after she hands Troy the necklace that he gave her in the beginning of the movie. But this isn’t real high school, this is jazzed-up, glossed-over, beautiful school—where everyone is good looking and everyone can sing and dance, even when they say they can’t.
The music and the dancing are what this film is about. It is so much fun to watch these cliché and over-the-top characters, and the songs are so catchy, although the music in the first film was more genuine. The High School Musical phenomenon has taken the musical genre, made the problems more relatable to its target audience, and cast fresh, young faces in the roles—its perfect.
Director and choreographer Kenny Ortega, who directed the first film, used some of the old set in the beginning of HSM2, the opening takes place in the halls of the school, but got to work with new settings including a baseball diamond and swimming pool which gave the film a different flare. It was a very refreshing twist for the sequel. There is talk of a third film for these characters. They don’t have much more of high school to go, but fans of the first two films will gladly see what they are up to next.
It’s nice to see made-for-television films that deliver exactly the way they are supposed to. This isn’t Sondheim or Fosse but that is why it is so fun. It is just so over the top that you have to watch more, making High School Musical 2 another guilty pleasure.
The DVD for High School Musical 2: The Extended Edition contains a deleted musical sequence that is quite funny and entertaining. The other features on the DVD include karaoke sing-along, where you can follow along to your favorite songs from the movie. One of the most interesting features would have to be the Rehearsal Cam extra, where you can watch the rehearsals and then that song/dance clip from the movie is shown.