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The boys are back’ in High School Musical 3

Jenn Metz | Tuesday, October 28, 2008

If you’re in the market for a film that riles your emotions and leaves you contemplating the meaning of life when the credits roll, High School Musical 3: Senior Year may not be for you.But, if you’re looking for something packed with energy, egotistic stage performers, Disney clichés, dancing basketball players, high school romance (and bromance), something that’s just, well, two hours of fun, the third installment of the ‘tween musical about a star athlete and a shy “freaky-genius girl” finding love and taking over the drama department at an Albuquerque high school delivers.A new and improved Zac Efron, with arms that made the 12 year-olds in the theater scream, as hometown hero Troy Bolton, faces a choice at the end of his high school career: does he follow in his father’s footsteps and attend U of A for basketball with his best friend and fellow hoops star Chad Danforth (Corbin Bleu)? Or does he follow his other, once-secret passion, singing, and win a scholarship to Julliard? And what about his love for devoted, ‘T” pendant-wearing Gabriella Montez (Vanessa Hudgens), who’s heading off to Stanford? If you were a fan of the original HSM (2006) or the second installment, HSM2 (2007), you will be very satisfied with entire cast, who have matured over the years. The soundtrack is expertly done, especially the opening “Now or Never” basketball montage and, surprisingly, “Scream,” Zac Efron’s teen-angst solo through the halls of an abandoned East High. Ashley Tisdale (Sharpay Evans) and Lucas Grabeel (Ryan Evans) continue to offer high-energy, wonderfully vain, over-the-top musical numbers, like “I Want It All,” which takes place in the cafeteria that has become a hotbed for improvisational dance. The somewhat cliché drama that fuels the plot is to be expected, along with the occasional references to the previous Disney Channel original movies (“We’re all in this together”, “Breaking with the status quo”, etc.).Gabriella Montez is just as annoying as ever in this installment, calling her boyfriend “Wildcat” and wearing almost scandalously short skirts. Though Troy continually emphasizes her important role in the East High universe, her on-screen time has definitely decreased from the other two films, and Senior Year focuses on all of the characters more equally than before, in their collective journey from average students to on-stage sensations. It is Efron and Danforth who steal the show in “The Boys are Back,” a scene where an ordinary trip to the junkyard suddenly transforms into a high-impact dance number. The two best buds reminisce about their childhood selves (who amazingly appear from under a wrecked car) and some how make pirouettes and somersaults seem masculine and natural. Efron displays some legitimate acting talent, and takes on the part of a hard to find, truly sincere teen heartthrob; though his character has conquered virtually every aspect of East High, he is still unsure of his next step and his on-screen relationship with real-life girlfriend Hudgens. Director Kenny Ortega (Newsies) brings the teen saga to the big screen in a big way, with elaborately choreographed numbers that are much more grown up than their made for TV predecessors. The HSM films are entertaining, and they bring real aspects of being a confused adolescent to life in a happy, fun, the-guy-gets-the-girl fashion. I don’t want to give them too much praise; I resisted watching the first when it premiered on T.V., but once you’re introduced to the Wildcat crew, they’re kind of hard to resist. Efron might be ready to graduate from High School, but I’d be eager for a fourth installment