High School Musical 3: Senior Year

For the first time in the trilogy, I actually felt like I was watching something theatrical with this one. You know, slightly awkward but charming interludes of emotional, staged joy! It took me awhile to realize that they were doing this on purpose, playing out the scenes of the play within the movie, “Senior Year,” and that these interludes were pieces of the whole production-within-a-production. Whatever. It was actually pretty cute and Chad (Corbin Bleu) had a basketball suit. Like a tux. I want one.

So I’ll continue to give my props while I’m still riding the wave of that suit. I definitely think this film had the best dancing of the three; choreography in general has changed in the 3ish years it’s been since they made the first HSM and the actors have gotten both older and more coordinated. I was a fan of the Greased Lightning-esque sequence in the junkyard (though the actual premise was way cheesy and Zac Efron wore a bandana around his head for absolutely no reason), especially when mini-Troy and mini-Chad came out. So cute. I still can’t describe how cute that was.

BUT. The plot? A little confusing. And a little messed up. And a little too deep for a Disney movie. Case in point: It was NOT obvious that Gabriela AND her mom were moving to California, it was UNCOOL for Troy to tell her not to go and, um, what was up with the song wherein Troy dances around the school at night and sings, “What’s it all mean?” Those are not okay with me. They basically tried to shove college-aged emotions into a movie about highschoolers targeted at tweens. I mean, deciding on college was tough, but it wasn’t this DRAMATIC. No one made TWO SPEECHES at graduation. No one can DANCE in GOWNS. This is forcing me to use caps lock and I don’t like it. NOT ONE BIT.

Sorry. Don’t get me wrong. Efron totally de-shirted and, at his HSM3 age, it was finally okay for me to drool a little. Also, I definitely cried at the end. The movies are cute! Really. I just wish this one would have followed the natural progression of maturity … naturally.

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High School Musical 2

The most noticeable thing about this movie—and I say this with a tinge of bitterness but a slathering of honesty—is that Zac Efron is completely, utterly in love with Vanessa Hudgens. My God. It’s quite possibly the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. Maybe besides this. Seriously, though. It’s quite beautiful. It’s some of the best chemistry I’ve ever seen, and this is coming from a Disney movie. They sing a solo and they look into each others eyes. They smile whenever the other enters the scene. Zac gets into a duet so much that he doesn’t notice his boxers are showing. (That was my favorite editing mistake, BTW.) So I have to say I’m pretty happy for them. Thank god they kiss at the end. It really wasn’t that risque, guys.

Moving on. This movie was, um, cute again, but I actually found the setting a little weird. A country club? Not something everyone can relate to. Even working there is a strange concept to most people. I actually have the privilege of belonging to a country club, and I also worked at a different one for 2 summers, so I get the culture of it, but I think it was an irksome choice. That being said, the behavior of Sharpay (Ashley TIsdale) is completely believable, even if it is a little overdone. There really are people like her at country clubs. Beware.

I know that they were trying to address the theme of privilege and the idea of opportunity, so I have to give them props for doing it in a unique setting. It’s interesting, honestly, how some people are handed opportunity even when they don’t ask for it, and even more interesting how they handle the pressure of a new life. Troy (Efron) was given such an opportunity, and he kind of handled it like a douchebag at first, but all the while I kept paying attention to Gabriela (Hudgens), who had an insanely mature amount of trust in his motivations. The fact that the movie hardly centered around boy-girl drama was so damn refreshing, especially for a company like Disney, and I thought it actually set a good example. If you love people completely, and you trust them, you shouldn’t be afraid to let them take risks and seek success. WOW.

And on the other hand, it shows what happens to you when you’re enabled your whole life, which was the case for Sharpay. I’m glad that there’s a tangible lesson out there for kids that says, when you’re given power all your life, and then it’s taken away, you become a huge bitch and a pain in the ass to deal with. You play games, you capitalize on your influence, you take advantage of people below you and you shit on your competition. I know I sound like I have some unresolved issues, but it’s really GOOD to show kids that! Come on. Don’t act like you don’t agree.

Okay, so the thematic stuff was pretty great, but naturally I have some ISSUES. First of all, why did they decide to make Sharpay’s bro, Ryan, suddenly butch? Is having a gay character not allowed on Disney? I don’t get it. I mean, I’m all for a multi-talented guy (Zac Efron, anyone?) but it seemed a little weird to see a guy wearing sparkly hats in the first one suddenly decide to play baseball in the second. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s just kind of incongruous. And I found it even more hilarious when Gabriela and Ryan hung out, because the plot makes Troy act all threatened and jealous and it’s totally absurd. Also, Zac Efron has a really awkward sad face. He should not make that face.

He should also not do a solo song running around on decorative rocks. That may have been the weirdest part of the entire film. They made him sing this “I’M GONNA SAVE THE DAY” type song, and he just ran around the golf course and puffed out his chest and all this shit. And, magically, he had a complete band backing him up, except they were nowhere to be found. I totally hate that. I suppose it, and the rest of the film, must have been fun to shoot, though. It looked sort of difficult with all the outdoor stuff.

I wanted to take a second to address Vanessa, whom I love. She’s my homegirl. I’m way jealous of her, of course, because Zac is pretty fiiiiiiiiiiine (let me be a schoolgirl, please). And I’ve watched her interview on Ellen and whatnot, and she’s very charming, but OH MY HECK THE LAUGH IN THE MOVIE. It makes me want to throw things whenever she giggles in the movie. It’s so goddamn fake. Just stick with caressing Zac’s arm instead of laughing at his jokes and you’ll be fine.

So, the ending. It was a bit forced. There was a bit of promise ring action. Whatever. I guess that’s cool. I’m going to go watch Senior Year right now.

Up

Pixar is like that long-lost slightly older cousin you have. You totally hung out a bunch when you were younger, but then you both got older and sort of grew apart because you were interested in different things. Occasionally you hang out, and when you do, it’s awesome because they remind you of being a kid again and because they’re so incredibly cool. And then when it’s time to part ways you wish you spent more time with them.

Sometimes I surprise myself with how good my analogies are.

But seriously. This film is GOOD. Like, mature themes good, beautiful animation good, silly characters good, awesome East bay ice cream shop reference good (WHAT UP FENTON’S!). It’s so beautifully sweet and poetic and detailed and I think I used all of these adjectives every time I talk about Pixar. The only beef I have is with the name. “Up” is a really hard name to google for movie times, people. Think about that. There is all sorts of weird shit that pops up when you google a word like that. Thank goodness the movie is popular.

Anyway, like I said, excellent. I don’t want to ruin it, actually, but I will say that I’ve never seen such complex characters in a cartoon before. I don’t watch Anime, so I don’t know if I’m offending anyone here, but SRSLY. I think I learned more about myself in the first 10 minutes of this film by watching the life of an old man go by than I did in the Film 50 class I took at Cal. I realize that sentence had a lot of clauses. Sorry. It’s late.

This film also takes advantage of COLORS, but not in a disney-slap-happy kind of way. There are balloons, which almost coalesce into a separate character, but there are deep, rich and even scary colors in the coats of the dogs, which I hope you’ll find out about on your own. And I swear, Pixar seriously just keeps getting better. The expressions on the faces of the characters are so real, as are the movements of their hair, the forrows of their brows, the blinking of their eyes. It’s fascinating, it’ll probably make you cry like a baby but it’s totally worth it. Best Animated Feature category, watch out.