My only exposure to High School Musical was from a chalet gathering last Christmas where a friend who was a fan brought his DVD and shared with us what's there to like from this highly popular franchise. The DVD has countless of versions released to milk its fan base, that I've really lost count just how many variations (Encore? Extended Dance?) there are out there in the market. Even then I didn't really watch High School Musical 2 completely, only zooming into the catchy song and dance numbers, and as for the first movie, I was only familiar with one or two songs that became like anthems for working together?
Anyway I'm not a fan, and the reason why I would have watched this is because Disney decided it was good enough for the big screen. Either that, or they actually did their sums and realize that the huge fanbase would turn up in droves to support it in the cinemas. And I guess they were right, looking at how it opened at #1 at the US Box Office. Is it any good then? For the uninitiated like me, the story's nothing spectacular, as it deals with growing pains of students and decisions that come with the end of high school, having choices presented on where you would want to go next for further studies. This would naturally mean a split amongst established friends as you'll be geographically separated, and temporarily close a chapter in your life.
Central to the story would be the possible insecurities and impending (long term?) split between lovebirds Troy Bolton (Zac Efron) and Gabriella Montez (Vannessa Hudgens) due to the latter's brainier character being accepted by Stanford. In fact just watching this movie alone, I thought Gabriella was the psychologically tougher of the two, with Troy being your typical indecisive jock who's a bit wishy-washy about his own development path ahead. The other subplot would be the usual resident evil Sharpay Evans (Ashley Tisdale) and her antics in wanting the limelight all for herself, this time though with her personal assistant thrown into the mix, and having the audience judge who's the biggest bitch out there.
But of course this is Disney, so don't expect too deep a theme to be dwelled upon. It's still fairly light stuff that is meant for enjoyment by kids, and supposedly with wholesome values thrown in too that would meet parental approval. It's fairy tale stuff that would seem like a cop out with its perfectly ideal ending, though some may find such saccharine positivity a refreshing change for once.
The song and dance numbers are wonderfully choreographed, though one can cringe at some of the lyrics for the slower numbers. A pity of course that we don't get to see the centerpiece of the show within the show, and only bits and pieces of the graduation play that the characters designed as something to commemorate their time at East High by. But of course I suspect that this is probably reserved in advance for the DVD release, where you can sit through the entire thing in one sitting.