Its soundtrack has been number one on the Billboard charts twice, went platinum, the home video release has become the fastest selling television movie of all time, the live concert is currently running in major cities, and the film has garnered a few Emmy’s, and a nomination for the American Music Awards.
After so much success and a win streak for Disney (who just can not hit a dry patch), you have to ask yourself: is “High School Musical” worth the success it’s currently obtained?
“High School: The Musical” is a combination of “Grease” and “Dirty Dancing” with musical numbers that are surprisingly catchy, even if the film is utterly sugary, as all Disney films tends to be these days. Ortega’s film is bright and lively, and aims for the tweens and easily pleased young girls. And like “Rocky Horror” it aspires to create songs the viewer can interact and sing along with, easily.
Ortega and Disney attempt to create a musical for the “Duh” generation, one that undercuts all the typical musical conventions with cheesy dialogue, actors walking in groups, and the inevitable set-up for a musical number, all of which occurs, the attempted jabs at typical musicals failing, as one of the characters calls to attention his hatred for conventional musicals with costumes, and heavy make-up.
The weak message from “High School: The Musical” (also officially known as “Grease 3”) is to do what’s in your heart, and not what’s expected from everyone. In actuality, it’s a young man named Troy drawn to musicals thanks to a pretty good looking girl named Gabriella who can sing. It’s nothing more than a typical teen chasing female tail.
The appeal here is not surprising. Its sugary, it’s innocent, it’s harmless, it’s empty, and it’s not making any points. “Rent” was about AIDS and the homosexual lifestyle, “Grease” was a raunchy look at the fifties, “West Side Story” was a modern adaptation of “Romeo and Juliet” set to racial tensions, while “High School: The Musical” is a simplistic, and single minded teen romp filled with Disney channel regulars that disappears from your collective memory minutes after viewing it.
But does “High School: The Musical” deserve the hype and accolades? No. But Disney has marketed it into cult status and award-winning success. Will Troy Bolton make it to the big game, or will he appear at the big musical to sing with the lovely Gabriella? It’s Disney, dumb a*s. They gave “Hunchback of Notre Dame” a happy ending. Come on!