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High School Musical: Love it even if you hate it

Jess Shaffer | Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Wildcats are back! Again. Hallelujah! Disney addicts are flocking to theatres to enjoy their favorite guilty pleasure. As I’m sure many a girls’ dorm room can prove, High School Musical is far more than just a preteen phenomenon – the innumerable HSM posters and Troy and Gabriella bed sheets are undeniable proof of an obsession that has overrun girls of all ages. The series is the most PG fun you can have. Luckily for fans everywhere, this made for TV classic has been taken to the next level and we can see our favorite too-old-to-actually-be-high-school-students on the silver screen. There are so many things to love about High School Musical. Watching teens break into song and dance during normal day-to-day activity is packed with entertainment value. First, there is some serious mock-ability. Any dance number that starts with cheese fries being dumped on a girl can’t go wrong. Second, there are the legitimate dance moves of cast members like Corbin Bleu. If talent doesn’t float your boat, there’s always the hilarity that ensues when Zac Efron attempts to bust a move. Note the “Bet On It” routine from “High School Musical 2” where Zac Efron frolics through a golf course singing about perseverance, complete with fist jabs, jazz fingers, split jumps and skipping. Not only fun and wholesome to watch, but amusing when one considers that Efron is supposed to be the high school “it boy.” As far as the musical routines are concerned, catchiness is the name of the game. Those who snobbishly turn up their noses at the High School Musical pop soundtrack dwell in an elite delusion that ignores the memorable nature the tunes. The songs are at worst harmless and at best really fun (and/or hilarious). No wonder Disney frequently has sing-along airings of the films. Of course, with the move of “High School Musical 3” to theatres, self-consciousness may prevent fans from belting out their favorite songs in public. And then there’s the cast who portray the clean cut, good looking, well-behaved teenagers that are typical of a Disney approach to high school. Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens play the “it couple,” embodying a combination of intelligence, athleticism, and stage talent. (Cute and wholesome on screen, it’s always delightful to throw in tidbits from this real life couple’s tabloid life. The contrast is stark and difficult not to enjoy.) Then there are the other high school caricatures: the wallflower, the joke, the theatre nerd, the maniacal popular girl, and the smart girl. Somehow these wildcats exist in a utopia where all these characters are friends. And what’s not to enjoy about this delusion? We labor away with classes and real life drama. We’ve seen high school, up close and personal. It’s nice and funny to see how Disney approaches the quintessential period of teenage angst. Basically when considering High School Musical, there are clearly two main types of fans: those who youthfully bask in the fun, simplified, light version of high school presented and those who enjoy the endless amounts of jokes that can be made at the film’s expense. But there’s no doubt that both groups appreciate the latest – and perhaps last – installment of High School Musical. However bittersweet the experience may be, there’s always your Zac Efron pillow to cling onto when you’re curled up in the fetal position, pining for the East High Wild Cats