The title of this film combines two things that Judge Ryan Keefer was never really fond of growing up. If the star was "Brussels sprouts," there would be a third.
Our reviews of High School Musical 2: 2-Disc Deluxe Dance Edition (published September 29th, 2008) and High School Musical 2: Extended Edition (published December 11th, 2007) are also available.
The latest darlings of the prepubescent female world are back for a sequel of Electric Boogaloo-like proportions.
Welcome to the most highly watched cable television event ever! High School Musical 2 aired on the Disney network in 2007 and it was full of pretty faces, catchy songs and lots of pre-teen glory. So, with this title being pretty exclusive for the PS3 playing Blu-ray crowd, is it worth all the fuss?
Facts of the Case
As it turns out, this film, or TV movie, was written by Peter Barsocchini (Drop Zone) and directed by Kenny Ortega, who has directed a lot of television episodes, but also has helmed one of the Cheetah Girls films, so if there's anything that Kenny seems to know, it's young boys and girls. So with college on the horizon, the pretty singers and dancers of Eastern High School decide to tackle the world of summer jobs. So in a sense, this feature is kind of like West Side Story meets that run of episodes on Saved By the Bell where they're all working at the beach resort, except the beach is a golf course. So Troy (Zac Efron, Hairspray), Gabriella (Vanessa Hudgens, Thirteen), Sharpay (Ashley Tisdale, Donnie Darko), Ryan (Lucas Grabeel, Alice Upside Down), Chad (Corbin Bleu, Galaxy Quest) and Taylor (Monique Coleman, Mother of the River) go through the summer with Troy and Gabriella still wooing one another, and Sharpay worrying about excess fur and skin. But wait a sec, Sharpay wants Troy to herself. I don't really recall much after the first 15 minutes of the film, and I was banging my head against the wall so much that it began to tingle afterwards.
I'm in the same boat with Chief Justice Michael Stailey, as I've never really been a connoisseur of Disney programming. I do know wise marketing though, as there are quite a few DVDs of the High School Musical troupe available now, and there's a third movie in the works for 2008, not only to capture the kid's demo, but also to get one last film in before the cast hits that part where they look too old for high school, kind of like seeing Crispin Glover in Teachers. You can see he's too old, so what the hell's he doing there?
That aside, High School Musical 2 is what it is; a series of musical song and dance numbers tied together, albeit somewhat loosely, by a story that's supposed to drive character advancement and move some sort of plot. But it doesn't really do that well, which is pretty sad, all things considered. And as far as this being some sort of extended edition, well, even at its original runtime of 98 minutes, I would think that that would be a little bit long, even for the core demographic. So why on Earth would someone tack on 15 minutes to this thing? Yeah, I don't know what was added, so what's it to you? Don't get me wrong, I like the occasional kid flick as much as anyone else, but honestly there's not a lot here that impressed me, either as an impartial observer or as a judge. Stories within musicals have been done far better before, Efron should know this with his appearance in the Hairspray song and dance, but we're talking about kids who, chances are, have some sort of privilege, some more than others, and when they join the ranks of the middle class, even for a few days, it doesn't work, but when a talent show is held at the place they work, what are the chances that it will involve more singing, more dancing, and more face time with Efron and Hudgens? Make it transparent and have them sing for 90 minutes, and I probably could have bought this in theory. As it stands, it's an old concept that's not done well and borders on shameful.
There aren't a heckuva lot of bonus materials to be found on the disc. Four minutes of bloopers, flubbed lines and dance numbers start things off, following by several areas that contain music videos, sing along and karaoke—which, isn't karaoke just singing along with the vocals turned down? The music sequences are included both in rehearsal and final product, and there's a preview of a Disney show here as well. From a technical point of view, the 1.78:1 widescreen looks good, all the kids look shiny and airbrushed and fine, but the background is apparently set in New Mexico or Arizona and that looks good too, in fact, one scene picked up a small rainbow effect when a golf course's sprinklers were turned on. The PCM soundtrack was a mild letdown, the music sounds OK, but the dialogue was recorded fairly low and you have to overcompensate which, if you've got a subwoofer, makes for a bit of a wakeup call. Clearly it could have been done in a better fashion.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Don't get me wrong, the kids can certainly sing to prerecorded tracks and dance quite well, and if I was a 10-year-old girl whose pens had fuzzy tops on them and smelled like a bubble gum factory, I'm sure I would have liked this more. But the music is way too bass heavy for my liking and tolerance, and the songs and story just don't do it. Hey, the Hannah Montana girl is in here for a second, does that mean I can sell this disc for $90 now?
You know, if you are a dad with a daughter in the house, you know you want to buy High School Musical 2, right? She's going to think that you're the coolest dad ever, plus it's a transparent attempt for you to buy a Blu-ray player and enjoy the world of high definition video and lossless audio, right? So in essence, you're not buying High School Musical 2 for yourself, you're buying it for your family. And if you do buy it for yourself, make sure you register online with the state, so that we know where you are at all times.
The filmmakers are found guilty of trying to use old musical tricks and expecting them to work on those who think independently and outside the pack! Off to the salt mines for you!
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