Posted by: Dr P | April 11, 2009

High School Musical 3

Dancing! Singing! Cute boys! Cute girls! Cracking routines! It’s Friday night at the Two Tubs … no, hang on, it’s Friday night at Cineworld Bolton and it’s the launch of High School Musical 3, the film we’ve all been waiting for since, well, since the closing credits of HSM 2!! (Actually, I haven’t because – whisper it quietly – I haven’t yet seen the first two films!).

This movie is camp-o-rama and, in the words of Strictly judge Craig Revel Horwood Fab-u-LOUS! It could only have been more of a gay-fest if my all-time legendary dance partner Matt “Boogie Woogie” Hunt had made a guest appearance in one of his amazing pink shirts. The first thing we noticed upon arrival was the average age of the audience. We appeared to have raised it significantly. Almost everyone else was under the age of 9 and decked out in HSM attire! Still, we were probably just as giddy as the rest! Vic told me off for shushing a group of 5 year olds who were talking over the Orange Anjelica Huston advert (still love it!) and once again I resisted the increasingly tough temptation to start making animal noises as soon as the lights dim for the main feature!

OK, what’s the scoop? If for some reason you’ve been living on another planet for the past 3 years (or, like me, your kids haven’t actually reached that age yet), the films are set at East Side High, a typical American high school with particular strengths in the twin areas of basketball and … performing arts. This of course allows for a perfectly hilarious opening scene in which our heroes walts around the basketball court slam dunking and singing in equal measure. Not since Harry Secombe stood atop a windy Welsh mountain top in Songs of Praise and achieved perfect acoustics has anything looked so ridiculous!

The main protagonists – as if you don’t know – are Troy, played by the lovely Zac Efron – and Gabriella, Vanessa Hudgens. They are amazingly sweet teenage kids with perfect teeth, wonderfully coiffeured hair, shining vocals, and effortless cool. I was transported back to my own teenage years … I hated those kids then, and I still hate them now! Troy and Gabriella are the shining stars of their school year – Zac leads the basketball team (the fact that his Dad is head coach does of course help) while Gabriella is a bit of a brain as well as the year pin-up. Also along for the ride are the other central characters of HSM 1 and 2 – the posh twins, Sharpay and Ryan Evans, Troy’s best mate and fellow basketball hero Chad, and Taylor, the nerdy yet still cool songwriter and musician. All these kids are amazingly talented and look like they’re having such a blast … you just want to throw things at them 😉

Of course, we’re only minutes into the movie when most of the audience decide to de-camp down to the front of the cinema and start dancing along … there’s something about watching 5 year olds doing cartwheels that is seriouslty cute. Mind you, that’s probably how Gary Glitter started. So we’ll get past that.

The main themes of the film are separation – the cast is in senior year now and about to graduate and go off to colleges across the US, and the problems soon to face Gabby and T-Dawg (sorry) when they are a thousand miles apart – and also competition: four of the main characters are competing for one place at a prestigious theatrical school.

I do love a good American high school flick – Heathers, the early series of Buffy, and of course the legendary cheerleading movie Bring It On – and this screams feelgood from the opening notes. I am sure that cynics will point to a fairly weak plot, songs not in the same league as the first two movie soundtracks, and an increasing use of Zac Efron’s buffed body to shore up any slow moments. However, I have to say I absolutely loved this – there are some great dance routines (though none quite touch the heights of true movie dance classics such as the Dirty Dancing finale, Gene Kelly singing in the rain, or the body popping in Step Up 2 the Streets), there are some excellent new bit-part characters, and you simply can’t beat the amusement of discovering that a high school roof looks like Bury’s B&Q outdoor gardening area. Tree-mendous.

I feel I’m not giving too much away when I say no-one gets killed (although a few jokes are murdered), there’s no bad language or violence, and far too little bedroom action (although there’s a rather raunchy scene in the treehouse when Troy and Gabriella exchange a few meaningful glances). Actually there is a bedroom scene, but it involves pizza and homework!

To all those like Kate who thought I might write something scathing about this, I say a hearty nah nah nah nah nah. It is by no means my favourite film of the year – nor indeed my favourite musical, as Mamma Mia wins hands down, but it’s a thoroughly lovely way to spend 90 minutes of time, if only to see the sheer enjoyment of the kids … and the screaming every time Zac Efron takes his shirt off. I really must apologise for that sometime!!

Dancing routines – 8
Dancing in the scrapyard – 9
Dancing at the front of the cinema – 10
Dancing in the Dark – Bruce Springsteen
Singing – 9
Cuteness of main characters – 9
Cuteness of audience – 10
Overall – 9

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