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High School Musical 3: Senior Year (2008)

High school graduation.

Directed by:

Kenny Ortega

Rating: 6/10

Running Time: 112 minutes

US Certificate: G UK Certificate: U

On DVD

Country: United States

I may be a huge fan of musicals, but thus far, I’ve managed to stay far, far away from the Disney ‘tween phenomenon that is the High School Musical. Then they went and made it a real, bona fide MOVIE, the kind you actually have to buy a ticket for, so I finally decided it was time to schedule a day, get some snacks, and dive right in to this trilogy of high school song and dance. Almost six hours later, I feel drained, I have songs I never thought I’d hear come out of my mouth actually coming out of my mouth … and yet, I’m not completely unsatisfied with the whole experience. Don’t judge me.

So, like I said, I watched the whole glut of these things, but right now we’re all about High School Musical 3: Senior Year. It is, of course, the gang’s last year of high school, and everyone is facing the typical graduating dilemmas—where to go to college? Will I get a scholarship? What happens if I leave my hot but chaste girlfriend/boyfriend to matriculate far from all the singing and dancing? Troy (Zac Efron) is trying to decide between the basketball scholarship he’s always wanted and a chance to study music at Julliard, Gabriella (Vanessa Hudgens) is torn between staying near Troy and going to Stanford, and Sharpay (Ashley Tisdale) is getting her diva on before they all have to go out into the real world.

I won’t go into the two preceding HSM movies—that discussion is for another time and place. Suffice it to say the first was strangely enjoyable, while the second suffered from trying to expand its landscape. This third film brought the main players back to the high school just in time for them to make a musical about their senior year, which really is as goofy as it sounds but which, given the premise, works. This ain’t high art, people, but for the audience it’s seeking, it’s sweet, full of color and life, and everyone involved is giving it their all. Efron is perfect for little girls who want that pretty boy with a teeny tiny edge, Hudgens is over-the-top sugary but great for Disney, and Tisdale, saddled with making Sharpay’s wild productions villainous and silly all at once, still manages to shine as the real talent (her “I Want It All” with “brother” Lucas Grabeel is a full-on Broadway-esque showstopper). The plot may be simple, and oh boy are there some cheesy moments, but when the musical numbers pop up—and they pop up often—there’s no denying that they’re perfectly executed creations of unbridled exuberance. The choreography, especially, is stellar—thanks to Charles Klapow, who’s been with the franchise since it’s auspicious beginnings as a Disney Original Movie. Overall, this is a pullout-all-the-stops end to a successful, albeit lightweight, chain of movies that was actually more fun than you might think, given you’re in the right mood.

It's Got: Awesome dancing, Cute teens, Lots of cheese.

It Needs: Audiences to not take it seriously.

DVD Extras Extended Version; Eight Deleted Scenes (about 6 minutes worth); Bloopers; Three Featurettes: “Night of Nights” (prom talk), “It’s All in the Dress” (prom dress talk); “Cast Goodbyes”; Sing Along with the Movie; Digital Copy. DVD Extras Rating: 7/10

Alternatives:

Dirty Dancing, Grease, Mamma Mia!

Summary

Fluffy and bright and poppy, High School Musical 3 sends its stars off into the world after high school in a fittingly sing-y and dance-y way—fans will be happy.

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