Movie Review: High School Musical 3, Senior Year

If the Beatle-esque squeals of the little girls behind me are any indication, High School Musical 3, Senior Year, is definitely a charmer.  Not that the first two HSM productions weren’t.  But take every positive element from the first two movies — the fresh talent, clean language, toe-tapping song and dances, positive messages to youngsters, and not merely tolerable but entertaining, material for parental units, along with the production budget to match — and you’ve got another Disney blockbuster.

Not only will this be a mega-success for Disney, it’ll be one for families longing for a wholesome, high-quality, captivating and entertaining 108-minute escape from overdue homework, crashing stock prices and standard domestic stress.

The wardrobe, choreography and production quality was phenomenal and impressive — yet not too cheesy or overdone (well, as long you don’t stare at Ryan’s pants too long).  In particular, when he and Sharpay sing, “I Want It All”, we’re taken back to the days of Broadway chorus lines, mixed with a dose of Gene Kelly and a pinch of Grease.  The role reversals in this number are clever and the transitions between themes seamless.

Without giving too much away, I can tell you the movie sends out both subtle and strong positive messages to our children:

  • You don’t have to be a size 2 to be popular and have friends.
  • Selfless acts by the stronger can open a world of possibilities for the weaker.
  • Everyone has their own unique gifts — one not better than the other — and they can all work together for the common good and success.
  • Life is full of a myriad of personal choices which carry consequences for ourselves and others.
  • Whose dream is this — the child’s or the parent’s?
  • Your parents actually do know something, even if you’re 18.
  • The male and female brains will truly never think a like.
  • Boys will be boys.

As predictable as one might think this movie will be… it’s not.  Yes, there are three sophomore characters to meet in this movie, but even mainstay characters’ long-standing stereotypes are challenged.  We’re now introduced to high school seniors who say, “You’ve raised me to make choices. I need to make them.”

They’re excited to let go and move on, yet also scared — a theme that doesn’t necessarily stop once we leave high school.

My only disappointment came during a scene when Troy climbs the tree outside of Gabrielle’s window to bring her a study-break snack.  Hello? Two love-struck teenagers in the upstairs bedroom while Mom’s downstairs assuming brilliant daughter is chomping on her pencil, not chocolate-covered strawberries.  But assuming you see this movie with your child, and you should, this scene offers the perfect segue into a “What’s appropriate behavior?” conversation.

Otherwise, I’m addicted to this film and, much to my 19 year-old son’s chagrin, its soundtrack. I can’t wait to see it again and yes, this is one DVD I’ll splurge and purchase. A must see — even if, like my 16-year-old daughter, you’re not willing to admit so in public. I laughed out loud, was beyond impressed with the talent and couldn’t predict how it’d end…at which time (ok, go ahead and print it), I got a little sentimental-weepy. At least I’m not alone, the cast members each admitted to getting emotional while shooting the final scene.

And all this wrapped up in a G-rated movie?  Miraculous!

P. S. Stay for the credits.

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