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I've finally found out the reason why the High School Musical
phenomenon is such a success. Why the first movie's soundtrack was the
top-selling CD of last year. Why there are ice shows, stage productions
(amateur and pro), karaoke CDs, and karaoke DVDs to boot. It all traces
back to the 90s.
You see, the 1990s gave birth to NSync, Backstreet Boys, the Spice
Girls, Britney, Christina, Jessica, what have you. But their time
wasn't meant for the 90s. They had come too early. Music honestly
wasn't ready to cycle back to the confectionery, syrupy, Velveeta meets
cotton candy of the late 50s/ early 60s. But now is the time.
The reason that High School Musical, and now Part 2, are such a success
is because 1990'S POP MUSIC IS BACK WITH A VENGEANCE!!! High School
Musical was the Reset Button, if you will, setting kidz-bop-pop back in
its rightful place. Adults have their music, their innuendos, their
profane-angry-paranoid-hurtfully honest songs. Why not give the kids a
break? A place to be a kid?
The sequel does a great job of avoiding the urge to fix what's
unbroken, but instead to polish it. This film isn't darker, but it is
spunkier. More attitude, and even more confidence (if that's hard to
imagine). This film is strictly for A) kids, and B) people who not only
remember but enjoyed being kids. High School Musical 2 is a burst of
joyful exuberance. Winks towards adult audiences have their place, but
so do productions where a kid isn't talked down to or expected to grow
up too fast.
The straight-up theater pop of the first has been replaced with more of
a Hip-Hop/ Arena Pop edge. Less Broadway, more Billboard. Plus, the
mythological task of defeating high school cliques has been replaced
with simply earning a check for the summer. The movie wants to feel
bigger than the last, but it's actually more intimate. That's an
The cast goes through some drama this time around, and some changes are
made, character-wise. This was the biggest surprise. Disney Channel
could have simply done a rehash of the first film, but everyone
involved truly did a great job. I forgot that, as corny as the premise
- the whole franchise - is, these guys can really act. And sing. And
dance. No wonder Disney gonna's make a fortune.
And no wonder musical theater is so rough. Every single participant has
to be a Triple Threat. But that's part of the fantasy of the first
film: making the audition, giving it your all, and gaining the applause
and support of your peers. What's great about this second movie is,
really it's about the reverse of that. LOSING the support of your
peers. Losing yourself in search of something you don't really need,
not yet anyway. It's a good message: The future will come soon enough.
Enjoy being a kid and being with the ones who love you while you still
Still, if this second movie doesn't match up to the first, it's because
of moving it away from the dream of Triple Talent Status. No longer a
musical about a musical, it instead becomes a musical about a country
club. Instead of risking social status to be yourself, to find
yourself, it is now about the dangers of losing yourself, by giving
into social status. More dramatic, sure. A stroke of genius, I would
say, except for the fact that it's still a freakin' High School Musical
movie, not a Country Club Musical movie.
By moving into more complex territory, it grows up. But by default, it
is less fun, just a smidgen less, than the original. To its credit, it
isn't stale (the new setting keeps it fresh), but Disney Channel,
Ortega, and all company involved will be hard pressed to create a
three-quel that's just as fun, lively and CHOCK FULL OF 90'S POP as the
original. A return to the theater would be welcome.
As for the songs themselves, let's just say I've been fair enough to
comment that I enjoyed the MOVIE for what it was. Disney's been great
at soundtracks but they'll have to do a lot better for part 3. Aside
from the opener and a baseball game/swing number, there's not much to
enjoy this time around, once again due in part to the removal of the
high school locale.
The kids will LOVE IT, the parents will Tolerate it, Disney Channel
will collect money hand over fist, and everyone else will have no idea
what is going on because they've failed to realize (A) what it meant to
be a kid, (B) that 90's Pop Music is back with a vengeance, and (C)
everybody wants to sing and dance, even if they don't want to admit it.
Tags for High School Musical 2 Full Movie
, Lucas Grabeel
, Vanessa Hudgens
, Zac Efron
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