www.whyville.net Jul 6, 2008 Weekly Issue

Times Writer

Movie Review: High School Musical 2

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Author's Note: This is a review of "High School Musical 2", a sequel to "High School Musical". I reviewed "High School Musical" in a past article, (id: 9044).

The Cast

Zac Efron - Troy Bolton
Vanessa Anne Hudgens - Gabriella Montez
Ashley Tisdale - Sharpay Evans
Lucas Grabeel - Ryan Evans
Corbin Bleu - Chad
Monique Coleman - Taylor McKessie
Olesya Rulin - Kelsi Neilson
Alyson Reed - Ms. Darbus
Chris Warren Jr. - Zeke
Bart Johnson - Coach Jack Bolton
Ryne Sanborn - Jason Cross
Kaycee Stroh - Martha Cox
Mark L. Taylor - Mr. Fulton
Leslie Wing - Mrs. Bolton
Jessica Tuck - Mrs. Evans
Robert Curtis Brown - Vance Evans

The Plot

"What time is it? Summertime! School's out. Scream and shout!" The scheming Sharpay tells Mr. Fulton to offer Troy a job at a posh country club that the Evans belong to. Troy agrees to accept the offer on one condition -- that his beau Gabriella Montez is able to work there too. Not only this but Troy also makes sure to put in a good word for his entire Wildcats basketball team and fellow East High students. Sharpay is infuriated when she learns that Gabriella is the new life guard and the rest of the East High students are working in the kitchen.

The country club has an annual talent show in which the winner is presented the Star Dazzle Award. For the last consecutive years, the winners of this award have been the sibling duo of Sharpay and Ryan. Talented songwriter and friend Kelsi wants Troy and Gabriella to participate in the talent show. Ryan informs Sharpay that Kelsi has written an amazing song for Troy and Gabriella. Troy agrees to do this duet with Gabriella after he is supported by his friends. Meanwhile, Sharpay has decided to abandon Ryan and sing with Troy instead. But she knows that Troy is not going to give into her so easily.

Sharpay begins plotting to distract Troy from his friends. She introduces him to her parents and makes sure that her parents know of Troy's qualities -- he is a basketball player, golfer and singer. Sharpay also tells Troy that her father, Vance, is on the scholarship board of the city's university. Troy then begins eying the opportunities the Evans have for Troy. Vance makes sure that Troy meets the university's basketball players. The Evans family also promotes Troy from kitchen aid to golf instructor.

While Troy is grasping these opportunities, he is abandoning his friends and beloved girlfriend Gabriella. His best friend Chad breaks all ties with him because of his arrogant attitude. The fellow East High students follow Chad's lead. Furthermore, Ryan has found acceptance among his fellow classmates. He soon takes Troy's place and becomes the director of students' performance for the upcoming talent show. Troy becomes jealous of the time that Ryan and Gabriella together. However Gabriella points out that Troy has been missing out on spending time with his friends because he is too occupied with Sharpay. Gabriella reminds Troy of the promise that they made during the beginning of the summer, the promise to be together. Nonetheless, Sharpay's demanding attitude and Troy's newfound arrogance, especially after Taylor points out that Troy is falling into Sharpay's trap. Gabriella quits her job as a lifeguard and ends her relationship with Troy.

Meanwhile, Sharpay makes sure that none of the junior staff members are allowed to perform at the talent show. A heartbroken Troy realizes what a bad friend he has been. He apologizes to his friends who forgive him. Troy also confronts Sharpay and tells her that since his friends cannot participate in the talent show, neither will he. A distraught Sharpay reclaims Ryan and decides to perform with him instead. However Ryan refuses to let Sharpay take advantage of him and lets her suffer from her karma. Ryan later tells Troy that Sharpay has worked extremely hard for the talent show and he cannot abandon her in her time of need. Troy returns to Sharpay and agrees to sing with her as Sharpay has now realized how mean she has been.

Prior to going on stage, Ryan tells Troy that Sharpay wants him to sing a new song. Troy frantically begins learning this new song with Kelsi. However when Troy heads on stage and begins singing, Ryan holds Sharpay back and does not allow her to go on stage. It seems as if Troy is singing by himself until he hears the voice of his former beau, Gabriella. The two sing a duet but they do not win the Star Dazzle Award. Instead, Sharpay awards it to an overjoyed Ryan. Finally the students of East High can enjoy the remainder of their summer together as friends. Well, not everyone is "friends." Troy and Gabriella reunite as a couple and share their first kiss, a scene that HSM fans have been looking forward to. All is well in Disneyland. The country club's mountains are alive with the sounds of laughter, singing and dancing.

The Criticism

First of all, the writing was terribly done. At the end of the film, it seemed as if the moral was "Abandon educational opportunities for friends." This is because after apologizing to his friends, Troy never touched base with the Evans about his scholarship. The writing was bland, cliched and meaningless. The dialogue had cheesy lines such as "She has more moves than an octopus in a wrestling match." How do these phases make their way into normal conversations?

Second, he acting was atrocious. Zac Efron did not want to take part in this movie. While auditioning for a role in the 2006 movie Hairspray, director Adam Shankman refused to hire Zac because Adam felt Zac was too Disney. Zac eventually won the role, but not without a fight. Zac seemed eager to drop his Disney image and was reluctant to appear in this movie. His reluctance can be seen through his cringeworthy acting. His character's emotions failed to register on his face. Zac also failed at delivering his lines with emotion. Vanessa Hudgens also did not triumph in conveying Gabriella's feelings, especially during the critical scene in which she broke up with Troy. I am only awarding the "acting" portion half a star because of Ashley Tisdale and Lucas Grabeel. This pair outshined their fellow actors, which is a shame because this is also what happened in the first HSM movie. Sharpay was very annoying. Her voice was sharp and high pitched and she conveyed Sharpay's whiny ways perfectly. Sadly Lucas Grabeel's character lost his quirk. He was no longer dumb but concerned with Sharpay's schemes, and saddened by the ignorance he faced with his peers. He was amazing.

Thirdly, character development occurred so fast that if you blinked or left the room, you would have missed it. At the end of the film, Troy realizes he has been an arrogant friend -- through a song a dance number. Even though this is a musical, Troy's lyrics were about betting. Hm, how meaningful. Troy's father Jack Bolton lacked a heart in this sequel. For instance, take the scene in which Troy is clearly upset that his friends dislike him. Jack solely focuses on Troy's scholarship. However in the first film, when Troy was down because of Gabriella, Jack noticed right away and gave Troy some words of wisdom. Where was the loving and caring father in this movie? Ah yes, he was in the trash along with Gabriella's growth.

Gabriella was a bit conceited in this film. When Troy was not spending time with her, she did not confront him at all. Suddenly, her passive character took a twist and dumped Troy. What?! At first she ignores her friends when they said that Sharpay was taking over Troy's life. When she realized this for herself, she didn't even bother to warn Troy. Then she cruelly dumped him and said that he does not spend time with her -- well, why didn't you ask him before? Why is Troy the only brains in the relationship?! Furthermore, though Lucas Grabeel's acting was impeccable, his character was not. Ryan was no longer stupid in this movie and I was terribly disappointed because Lucas downplayed his character's IQ so well. Ryan realizes that he should no longer be Sharpay's tag-along. But this is only implied through a sentence. How fulfilling.

Another area lacking a brain is the originality. If you make a sequel to a movie, it does not mean that you slightly change the plot. Several scenes in this movie were similar to the first one. For example, when Troy has a falling out with Gabriella and when Sharpay rewrites one of Kelsi's romantic songs into a much more upset tempo. However, the writers did do well to set the plot at a country club. Overall, the movie has several plot holes and noticeable errors. Take the scene in which Troy looks at his reflection in the water. His reflection is perfect -- it's a mirror image of his face. There aren't any ripples of water anywhere. AMAZING! Aside from the riveting mistakes, the choreography and musical numbers were not as good as the first movie. Choreographer Kenny Ortega put all of his focus into making a great dance number for the song "What Time is it?" which had the best choreography. He lacked everywhere else. The songs are not as catchy or memorable as the ones in HSM, and the last song "All for One" is a remake of HSM's "We're All in This Together." The worst songs were sung by Sharpay, such as her high-pitched ballad "Fabulous" and remake of "You Are the Music in Me."

Do not rent this film, it is an absolute waste of time. This review has told you everything you need to know. Instead, opt for the soundtrack instead. It's worth more of a listen, than this movie is worth a watch. A third High school Musical movie is coming to a theater near you in October. Moreover, Vanessa Hudgens recently announced that there may be a fourth movie in the franchise. However she is not sure whether the regular cast will partake in it. The third movie will deal with prom, the cast's graduation and parting ways possibly forever. *Spoiler alert* Gabriella is considering attending Stanford University and Sharpay is looking into a scholarship at Julliard. Hopefully everything has been kicked up a couple notches in the third film. Critics in the real world are much harsher than I am, and they are going to tear the movie to shreds if it does not fulfill them. Recently, People magazine published stills from High School Musical 3: Senior Year. Below is a scan of the magazine's page:

This is the cover of High School Musical 3: Senior Year.


Author's Note: Movie Reel:
-"High School Musical 2" cover
-The cast signing "What Time is It?"
-Sharpay is singing yearbooks
-Chad is discussing his summer as he walks down the hall
-Troy and Gabriella discuss their summer


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