is this bad for a musical or bad for a movie? Maybe it’s just bad
Way back in the dark ages, long before Zac Efron was the star of the box office flop Baywatch, long before Vanessa Hudgens was mildly funny in failed television sitcoms, in the ancient dark days before Hamilton had made it big on Broadway, there was the completely, absolutely, utterly, unnecessary made for television Disney special, High School Musical.
This has a stunningly high 56% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes. That means that more than half of the people who have viewed this, enjoyed it. I have no idea how. Unlike Emo: the Musical this film is so saccharine sweet that it will give you a stomach ache. Like Emo: the Musical, this depiction of high school seems to believe that you can only be one type of person. Until the end of course.
Now look, for a little television special aimed at pre-teens wanting some good old wholesome entertainment on a Saturday night, this is perfectly fine. The singing is decent for a sort of pop-ish sound, the acting isn’t bad for the Disney channel and the plot is the same as like ninety percent of eighties rom-coms.
But as a normal adult, suffering through this, the movie is painful. I’d rather be strapped to a chair while Mr. Blonde listens to Stuck in the Middle with You than watch this again. I’d rather be a young padawan facing a yellow eyed Anakin Skywalker than watch this again. I’d rather jump into a tornado full of sharks and chainsaws than watch this again. I would rather read an Agatha Raisin novel than watch this again. In case you don’t get it, I would rather be tortured than sit through this again.
The story centers around a star basketball player named Troy and his math whiz love interest Gabriela. Randomly they meet and sing karaoke while on vacation and feel a strong connection. The karaoke song has a lyric that goes something like, “I never knew this could happen until it happened to me.” So uh, yeah, the lyrics are that incredibly… good? Troy and Gabriela are clearly attracted to each other because, hormones. Lucky for Troy, Gabriela conveniently moves into his school in the next scene because, script.
The basketball players start singing a song about how basketball players don’t sing. Apparently they don’t play basketball either because they go through this huge choreographed dance routine, including several instances of traveling, illegal passing and all kinds of on court violations. Then as a unit they throw all of their basketballs in the air. There are like twelve guys in the scene and a total of none make a basket in the whole scene. This is their whole practice because they leave immediately after. Then, we establish that this team has a CHAMPIONSHIP game coming up. Are they playing the Washington Generals? Because if not, the dudes from East High are going to lose.
Meanwhile, Gabriela doesn’t want it known that she is good at math. Because, that’s a great message to send to girls (sarcasm font activate). She also doesn’t want to seem like she can sing even though she pines at the sign ups for the er… high school musical. PLOT POINT: that’s why it’s called High School Musical, I get it now, I finally get it! Gabriela is outed pretty quickly and has to join the math team because, we need conflict in the third act.
Not only is Troy the basketball star, his dad is the coach. And not only that, his dad has beef with the drama teacher who insists on pronouncing it musi-cal every time she says the word. She hates the jocks and the jocks hate the drama geeks and the nerds are nerds and skaters are skaters and everything is good at generically named East High.
In the drama club there is a brother and sister who will disturbingly remind you of the Lannister twins without ever doing anything more than singing and dancing with each other. They of course, are the villains and drive the plot so that we can have conflict between the leads.
Gabriela and Troy both sneak over to the auditions for the musical and of course, end up singing and upstaging the villainous drama siblings. The drama teacher calls for call backs which infuriate the drama twins and also lets the whole school know that Troy and Gabriela tried out. Makes me wonder what they thought would happen if they just got the parts but whatever. Then all hell breaks loose. The basketball players start admitting in song form that they like to bake, skater guys admit to playing musical instruments and brainiacs admit to liking hip hop. It’s a seriously stupid scene.
Also, and this is just a side note, when I was in high school and people got call backs for anything drama related that was always a good thing. Everyone hoped to be called back so I don’t get the reaction of the drama siblings at all.
Now that we have established who is who here, the next part of the movie is the math team trying to expose Troy as a jerk and the basketball players trying to get Troy to break up with Gabriela. It works because if it didn’t, there would be no conflict. Could that conflict have been resolved with a thirty second conversation amongst the main characters? Yes because later it is. After a song.
The big conflict/climax comes because of ridiculously stupid scheduling conflicts. The drama villains make it so that the math competition, the basketball game and the call backs are all schedule for the exact same freaking time. Now, any good principal or teacher or, you know, person with access to a calendar, would fix that right quick. But no, we need more songs instead.
But the tables turn so hold onto your top hats and canes because the math team and the jocks come together in the end to help both Gabriela and Troy. They realize that they have treated these sweetheart American teens poorly so they plan to cut the lights at just the right time in the gym so that Troy and Gabriela can swiftly make the call back and then back to their respective events before anyone is the wiser.
Guess what? They sing well at the call backs and are cast for the play, the match competition is won, and so is the basketball game. Yay! Not at all what I expected. Never saw that coming, Not even close. Hey, did you know that if you take one thing and then put another of that thing together, you have two of them? Me neither.
The movie ends with a big musical number and everyone is mostly happy except of course the drama villains. Troy is given the game ball for, I guess missing most of the practices, showing up for part of the game and making a single basket. He promptly turns around and gives that ball to the composer of the music for the play. She looks about as uninterested in that ball as I was in this movie. He was like, “your the play maker, you get the ball.” I suspect the actress was confused too.
Somehow, this thing sparked sequels and an actual musical on Broadway, despite the fact that in the movie, there is never a musical. Let me repeat that. There is never a musical. What there is happens to be tryouts for a musical. There’s no actual freaking musical in High School Musical. I feel extremely cheated by this. How dare they call this High School Musical when we don’t even get to see the musical. It’s like Jaws with no jaws. It’s like The Godfather with tryouts for being a godfather. It’s a complete and total rip off!
Ok, sorry, got off on a rant there. Anyway, what was I saying? Oh yeah, High School Musical sucks and it’s inaccurately named despite the fact that they try out for a high school musical. How did this company go on to produce Avengers: Endgame? Hopefully because they fired the people with the terrible idea for High School Musical.
With all of that off my shoulders, there is one instance in which I think people should watch this movie. First, if you have never seen it, go ahead and suffer through it once. It’s difficult but you can do it. Immediately after that, watch the Bad Lip Reading version of it. Chorky and Lumpkinella are waaaaaay more entertaining than Troy and Gabriela ever hoped to be.
After the sweet, sweet taste of High School Musical, I need something to wash it down with. I’m going to take a big old drink of Waterworld so come back for that next week.