(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing clips from High School Musical)
Doug (vo): High School Musical, the Disney Channel movie that started a friggin' phenomenon. There were two sequels, one of them getting a theatrical release, a hit soundtrack, and even a hit stage play that came from this. Kids growing up at the time were obsessed with this, and being adults, we, of course, rolled our eyes and said, "Oh, come on. Stupid, lame, corny, blah-blah-blah-blah-blah." And if you've seen my review of High School Musical 3, which I did several Disneycembers ago, you'll know that I think...yeah, it is all those things, but it's kind of smart about it, if that makes sense. It's kind of like our generation's Saved By the Bell, except that it knows it's this generation's Saved By the Bell. Does that mean where it all started is pure corny gold? Well, let's take a look.
Doug (vo): Troy and Gabriella are two high school kids that meet at a New Year's party. They get forced into singing karaoke together, and, of course, sound amazing, and, sure enough, it turns out she's now going to his school. Oh, lucky, lucky. They discover that they surprisingly like singing, but, uh-oh. He's one of the best players on the basketball team, and she's one of the smartest minds in the science club. So they're, of course, embarrassed when they think about trying out for the high school musical just because...they want to. But a... (Chuckles) incredibly bizarre brother-and-sister team known as Sharpay and Ryan are always the center of attention in theater, and thus, they want to sabotage their chances of being stars. So they start telling everybody that they're trying out for the high school musical, but, sure enough, everyone else starts to get the idea that maybe they should do what they really love. Maybe a skater can dance, maybe a basketball star can make cookies. Oh, the maddening possibilities.
Doug (vo): On the surface, this all seems, well, stupid. And, yeah, it is stupid. It's a playful kind of stupid that makes it very obvious you're not supposed to take it that seriously. There's a whole song all the kids sing about sticking to the status quo. No high school kid would have that exact mindset, but it's kind of satirizing that mindset while also being silly about it.
(Several characters are shown, mainly focusing on their dilemmas)
Doug (vo): It's also nice to see what's mostly a hodgepodge of cliches break one or two cliches. For example, these stories are usually about the geeky kid trying to fit in, and I like the idea that these kids are already popular, and they want to do something that's not very popular simply because they want to. As much as we like to make fun of characters like this, like, "Oh, being popular is so hard", I give it credit that it does show their stress and pressure that applies to these kind of people, too, that pressure of performing, that pressure of being what everybody wants you to be.
(One of the supporting characters, Mrs. Darbus, is shown, along with scenes of the characters practicing for the musical)
Doug (vo): I also like that the acting teacher is not your stereotypical inspiring acting teacher. She's actually kind of a bitch. She yells, she screams, she has really strict rules. It helps break the idea that this movie has an agenda to get you into musical theater. Ironically, there's not much musical theater in it. Oh, not that there aren't dance numbers and songs and such, but we don't even know what the high school musical is about. Hell, they don't even perform the high school musical. All we get up to is the audition part. And, yeah, when you have characters like this brother and sister running around, who are just...so odd and so in their own little world, you kind of realize this movie is in its own little world, too.
(Several scenes focusing on the climax are shown)
Doug (vo): The one thing that legitimately bothers me about it is that some of the characters cheat in order to get what they want. Well, okay, we learn our lesson, cheating is wrong, you should never force anything. But...then the main characters cheat to make everything right! Well, wait a minute! Anyone that knows anything about sports games or competition or anything knows that this is really wrong! This really isn't ethically sound! But when you get to the ending and see just how much everything wraps up...literally, in one shot, it shows the epilogues of every character going super, super fast...you do realize, like the characters in the movie, you're not supposed to take this stuff that seriously. You're supposed to just have fun with it.
Doug (vo): So, does that mean I like it? Um...actually, I found it a little dull. Yeah, I know, right? It sounds like I'm praising the hell out of it, but, honestly, it's kind of slow-moving. I like that it deals with high school issues, granted, in a very corny way, but I surprisingly could've used a few more energized musical numbers, because when they're just sitting around talking, it's...not bad, but not good either. But to be fair, I'm sure that's because I'm an adult. Middle school kids, hell, even high school kids, I'm sure watched this and loved it and wanted to be the characters in this and spin around and look pretty and...I don't know. It's not my thing, but I can't say it's bad.
(Clips from Newsies are shown)
Doug (vo): The guy who directed these movies (Kenny Ortega) also directed Newsies, which I didn't like. I felt that flamboyant Broadway style didn't match the world that they were in.
(Back to High School Musical)
Doug (vo): Here, the world definitely embraces it. And if that's your thing, I'm sure you'll have fun. It didn't really grab me, but it's not supposed to grab me. It's supposed to grab kids who want to sing and dance and look sparkily and fabulous. (A scene of Sharpay and Ryan dancing is shown) And maybe have a thing for your siblings. I don't know. Am I the only one that got a little uncomfortable sometimes with that? I guess I can see why this took off, I mean, there is a lot of talent behind it. It's just not the kind of talent I get into. But for those that do, sit back. There's surprisingly a fair amount to appreciate.
(The final scene, showing all the main characters and other high school kids celebrating at a basketball court, is shown)