A popular high-school athlete and an academically-gifted girl get roles in the school musical and develop a friendship that threatens East High's social order.A popular high-school athlete and an academically-gifted girl get roles in the school musical and develop a friendship that threatens East High's social order.A popular high-school athlete and an academically-gifted girl get roles in the school musical and develop a friendship that threatens East High's social order.
With a title that is pretty much a description of contents rather than a title, I pretty much knew what this film was going to be when I sat to watch it. I expected a typical high school movie plot (ie pick one from the five or six main generic ones in films) but delivered as a musical and for the whole thing to be as glossy and as cheerful as one would expect from the Disney film. The way that it is laid out means that it delivers just that a cheerful musical that goes where you expect it to and does it with the spirit of a light Broadway musical. To those that pick up this film as one would a packet of potatoes in a supermarket (ie knowing that they want potatoes and that they are buying potatoes) then this will provide just what you want and should cover up the weaknesses inherent in it.
Even to the fan, these weaknesses will be as obvious as they are to the viewers that dislike the film. The plot is of course generic and will surprise not even the child audience it is aimed at. The message is writ large across every scene and is clunky almost the whole time. The cheerful pushing of this message of acceptance and being true to yourself is a bit like propaganda and lacks any reality something many peer-pressured teenagers will tell you. The songs themselves are cheerful big numbers that are as clean and as wholesome as American pie (the ideal rather than the movie!); none of them are good and many will grate on those not used to musicals (although this is not really the film's fault).
The cast are probably the most annoying aspect for the casual viewer because almost to a performer they scream "stage school" and they do the exaggerated and facial-movement-heavy acting that one would expect from a school musical production. Of course this just about works within the context of the genre but I found it annoying because they didn't seem to have an off switch so even in the smaller moments they are doing the same stuff as in the midst of a massive dance number. Hudgrens is cute and makes for a sweet lead. Efron is bland but probably offers the safe and sexless looks that a female tweenie audience appreciate. Coleman's performance is poor but I was amazed by how a woman in her late twenties can manage to look fifteen! Bleu is equally poor and together they fail to provide any teeth to the peer pressure that is key to the plot. Everyone sings and dances well enough and again, within the genre, they work even if they will get on the rag of the casual viewer.
Overall then this is a film that does just what it says on the tin. It is a high school plot delivered as a musical. Those buying this product knowing the contents will probably like it because it does just what you expect and delivers a solid and slick musical to the extent that the weaknesses of the genre can be forgiven. However the casual viewer will find the so-so songs, soullessly slick delivery, stage-school performances and simplistic, cloying morals to be pretty big hurdles to get over.
- bob the moo
- Jan 4, 2007