(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing clips from High School Musical 3. The song "Now or Never" plays throughout)
Doug (vo): By popular demand, it's High School Musical 3. I know a lot of you are probably upset that I'm not doing the first two High School Musicals, but on the other hand, I'd said I'd only do the theatrical ones, and the third one's the only one that got a theatrical release, so...suck it. I guess it is really important to talk about at least one of these movies as High School Musical was a huge thing for a while. The specials were big hits, everybody got the soundtracks and, yes, it eventually got turned into a theatrical film. It made a lot of money for Disney, and a lot of younger audiences love looking back and remembering it. And I bet you're all waiting for me to really tear it apart and talk about how cringe-worthy it is, and...truth be told, you might...actually hear a positive review out of this. [An audience boos] Okay, okay, let me talk about it first.
Doug (vo): After two TV specials about the popular kids now being forced to do a musical and find out they actually enjoy it, we find our main group of phenomenally good-looking misfits are now in their senior year. They're comprised of all the high school stereotypes you've seen before: the jock, the best friend, the nice girl, the weird kind of nerdy kid, and a self-obsessed girl. Only this time, the focus is not as much the play they're gonna perform, but rather what they're going to do after they graduate. Yeah, actual future plans about what they're going to do after high school ends. You kind of forgot kids in high school movies are actually allowed to think of that, didn't you? Particularly in a Disney flick. That's not to say the actual performance in the musical isn't done as well. In fact, they tie in rather nicely. The teacher says that she wants the musical to be about Senior Year, about what the future may hold, all the possibilities, what it meant to go through high school, all that fun sappy stuff. The kids coming up with the material actually seems kind of easy because they're going through all the pains and dilemmas that a lot of kids going out of high school are going through. Which college are they gonna go to? Are they gonna go to college? Are they still gonna be best friends? Are they gonna be separated? What careers do they want to do? What jobs are they looking into? What does this mean for their future? All that fun stuff.
Doug (vo): And that's...kind of it. Yeah, I was kind of waiting for some evil teacher or some snooty student to come in and try to ruin everything. And, yeah, there are quote/unquote "shenanigans" that go on, but they're situations that are only important to one character and not really anyone else. The important stuff is actually focused on the most. And for something that's as mainstream and over-bloated as High School Musical, I don't think it does it that bad.
[Several of the film's song sequences are shown]
Doug (vo): The song sequences effectively show what it means to break apart from your friends or to find out where you're gonna go in the future, and the visuals help to represent it, too. There's an especially great scene where our main character is trying to figure out what to do with his life, as represented by him being in his basketball court and all these basketballs falling and flying and the room spinning, and it's actually pretty creative. And it ties in with the story and what the characters are feeling. That's not to say there aren't songs that don't tie in and are clearly just there for fluff, but they're actually kind of creative, too, and still tie in to what kind of characters are being represented.
[Various more song sequences, but more cheesy scenes, are shown]
Doug (vo): But, okay, so it doesn't succumb to some of the typical Disney and high school cliches, but you know they work in a lot of other ones. Like I said, the student stereotypes, the fact that everything is so bright and colorful, the fact that it's unbelievably cheesy as hell, and...yeah. It really is. This is unbelievably cheesy. The music is pure pop fluff, the characters, all stereotypes, all fucking beautiful, all wearing the most fashionable clothes. Yeah, it's obviously one big product. But it's hard for me to hate on it because... [Sighs] How do I put this? It's kind of like hating Saved By the Bell. Yes, that's cheesy and corny and over-the-top, too, but it's also kind of a strange time capsule. It captures how a lot of the youth at the time kind of saw the world, or the world they thought they were going to enter. Or it's kind of like Grease. Grease is not a proper representation of the '50s, but it's so over-the-top and so overblown and so cheesy and so upbeat, you kind of can't help but smile at its naive innocence.
[Various other song sequences, but mainly the more creative ones, are shown]
Doug (vo): And that is how I see High School Musical. It's naive, but innocent. It's not devoid of creativity, or really character for that matter. Like I said, they do really go into the dilemmas of them wrapping up school and what it means for them. And everything is pushing so hard to cement the exact era that they're in. The fashions, the music, the makeup, the styles, all that stuff. It's something to look back on and kind of harmlessly laugh at. But at the same time, it's not something to totally be written off, as there is a lot of effort put into it. The sets, the dancing, the music, they're trying. And a lot of times, it is effective. But now you might be saying, how can I like something so cheesy and over-the-top as High School Musical 3 and not something so cheesy and over-the-top like Newsies?
[A few clips from Newsies are shown]
Doug (vo): Well, that's because, with Newsies, it was still trying to keep it in a realistic environment. The cities looked like real cities, it was a period piece.
[Back to showing clips from HSM 3]
Doug (vo): I don't think anyone will tell you this film is a proper representation of high school. Everything is over-the-top, the environment is totally goofy, totally insane, and I think the film is aware of it. Everything is over-glorified and romanticized, and it works. There's no point where I could see the director coming in, saying, "Hey, let's make this look more realistic. Hey, let's make this look a little bit more dirty. Hey, let's make this look like a more realistic high school." No, it's all from the point of view of little kids imagining what high school is gonna be like when they get there, so they can have something to look back on and say, "Wasn't that funny when we thought it was gonna be this? But wasn't it kind of charming and silly, too?"
Doug (vo): I appreciate how this film gets totally wrapped up in its environment and doesn't apologize for it at all. It is a giant sellout, it is total corporate Disney pandering. But, through that pandering, they do allow a lot of clever songs and clever scenery and clever dilemmas, many of which high schoolers will relate to, just not on a super dark or serious level. So, does that mean this is a film I really enjoy and want to see several times again? Oh, fuck, no! One was enough for me. Like I said, it is corny and it is dumb, but it's also harmless, it's also creative, and it also has a lot of effort put into it, and it shows. If you're looking for a serious film that's gonna push the limits of what a musical can do and really dive into a character's psyche, then this probably is not the flick. But if you want something like, how I usually refer to it, "Saved By the Bell: The Musical", just a time capsule of corny late 90s and early 2000s that clearly put a lot of effort into it, then... [Sighs] I can't believe I'm saying this...it's actually worth checking out. If you're in a goofy nostalgic mood and you're of a certain age where you grew up with this stuff, then yes. High School Musical 3 is a very enjoyable movie to check out.
[The final scene is shown, showing the six main characters standing on a stage right behind the High School Musical logo, and they do a huge leap into the air. A caption is shown saying, "Yes, it really ends that way!"]