Rating: Rated G
At this high school they don't seem to do many school room subjects. They play basketball and are cheerleaders (and win against all the odds). They spend a lot of time in rehearsal for the 'musicale' to celebrate graduation. They sing a lot and do some dancing. But, that is what has touched the teenage audiences of the US ($42 million on opening weekend) and of the rest of the world (one North London complex had it on five screens during the day with 13 sessions each day in the complex). And then there is Zac Efron who at twenty finds himself a worldwide hearththrob. And there is Vanessa Hudgens who is popular as well but this is a film that is popular with girls and so the attention is on Zac.
What began as a pleasant movie for the Disney Channel surprised the powers that be with its popularity. A second television movie was commissioned and did very well. Then it was adapted for the stage with tours all over the US and elsewhere. This has led to the present sequel which was made for cinemas rather than television. And the young and the very young are flocking to see it. It is G rated.
As a film, it is pleasantly ordinary for adults in a tolerant mood. It's the show must go on. It's final year and the prospects of college. It's teenagers behaving wholesomely. It's teenagers having difficulties with their parents' expectations and their feeling the need for some independent choices.
Troy and Gabriella have become important for the High School Musical audiences. Sharpay, who is really a nasty piece of work embodying all the hiss characteristics of the villain, becomes nicer at the end of each film – but relapses for the next one. Her twin, Ryan, is still doing choreography. And the bespectacled composer is still churning out the tunes. A nice touch is that Julliard is offering college scholarships so there is an incentive for potential candidates.
It's all rather old-fashioned in a contemporary way – and an unexpected series phenomenon.
WDS. Out Now
Fr Peter Malone MSC directs the film desk of SIGNIS: the World Association of Catholic Communicators, and is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.