Roger L. Simon

High School Musical 3: Senior Year eviscerates W.

Yes, I saw High School Musical 3: Senior Year its opening weekend. (Reminder: I have a ten-year old daughter.) I’m not the target audience (to say the least), but I mildly enjoyed it, particularly Kenny Ortega’s direction/choreography. [What? Have you lost your mind? It gets 2.9 out 10 on IMDB, worse than Showgirls.-ed. What can I say? The last movie I saw was W. I was desperate.] And speaking of W., the Oliver Stone film sank like the proverbial stone. High School Musical 3 out-grossed it by something like 8 to 1 domestically. And that’s not including foreign, which, according to Nikki Finke, made the musical–at 82 million dollars for the weekend– the first American worldwide number one since The Dark Knight. (W. dropped 49.3 percent on its second weekend – disastersville.)

Interestingly, despite the supposed temper of the times, both of these films — Dark Knight and High School Musical – are more conservative in content and theme. Except for the racial mix of its cast, High School could have been made in the Thirties (although probably better then, if directed by Busby Berkeley). The plot is right out of a Mickey Rooney-Judy Garland “let’s put on a show” flick with the requisite prize in the end, in this case a Julliard Scholarship. The cast, now on their third movie, is a bit long in the tooth for high school, but some of them can sing and dance, although, let’s be honest, there are no young Gene Kellys and Fred Astaires in evidence. And definitely no Cyd Charisses. Still, Lucas Grabeel as the junior choreographer looks like a comer.

Lionel Chetwynd and I will be discussing the ins and outs of High School Musical on our next Poliwood — or at least I will. I promised Lionel I wouldn’t make him see movies he didn’t want to see. Maybe we’ll also have to discuss Bresson or Ozu so people will still take us seriously.