dispatches from the pop scene...minus the corn syrup.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

High School Musical 2 Fails To Make The Grade? Bet On It (Bet On It)

Let's be up front about one thing: the best thing about High School Musical 2 is the soundtrack, which far surpasses the Disney Channel movie it supports. And, if we're to boil it down further, "Bet On It" -- Zac Efron's angst-ridden solo number that sounds like the best boy band power jam that never was -- is the most shining moment from the whole project.

So what went wrong? Here are the three most glaring errors made by the powers-that-be with the sequel:

1. Taking The Setting Out Of High School.
Hell, there's not even anything to do with a musical in the plot. WTF? This time around, it's summer vacation, and the East High gang are working at a country club. The cast is more tan, more glam and, frankly, more resembling the suddenly succesful actors playing the parts rather than the naive characters we came to love in the first movie. Each time they shuffle across the screen, Zac Efron, Corbin Bleu & Co. all look like they graciously took an hour off from a stylized press junket for the 17 other projects they have going on to shoot their scenes. Plus, Vanessa Hudgens, who garnered sympathy for portraying the brainy underdog the first time around, now looks like she slinked off the set of Baywatch.

2. Too Much Sharpay.
Ashley Tisdale's bitch-you-love-to-hate antagonist worked in HSM because she had about five scenes. They came out of nowhere, she yanked the rug out from under all around her and left you wanting more. But now that antagonist has become the female lead, reducing Hudgens' appearances to a few scant moments in HSM2. It's as if Ashley's "people" reminded the Disney execs that Tisdale's contract is coming up for renewal, and they'd best beef up Sharpay's screentime if they want her to re-sign. Make no mistake, High School Musical 2 might as well have been retitled The Sharpay Evans Show.... or When Disney Forgot That A Little Goes A Long Way. There is, however, one hysterical scene where, in a pouting moment, she commands the drummer of the country club's house band to "Give me a beat!" so she can strut out of the room. Unfortunately, this would have played better were we not already numb from the countless other over-the-top Sharpayisms.

3. The Paper-Thin Plot.
Basically, they all work at a country club owned by Sharpay's parents, Sharpay moves in to steal Troy from Gabriella and it doesn't work. Trust me, you're better off just buying the soundtrack and letting your mind construct a more cohesive story through the songs. As stated before, there's nary a high school (except for the opening number, set during the last day of school) nor a musical audition to be found. The kids are supposed to be gearing up for a talent show held each summer at the club, but the anti-climactic finale is so illogical (the characters are forbidden to participate in the end) that the writers tacked on a ridiculous medley of song-and-dance numbers in the last 10 minutes that do nothing to hold the whole mess together.

It's a shame, really, because the soundtrack couldn't get any better. Granted, with all Disney has at stake with trying to cash in on the most successful cable movie ever, the music here sounds more like an over-produced pop album than the pleasant collection of show tunes that made up the first record.

Too bad the movie itself couldn't be as much of a guilty pleasure.

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6 Comments:

  • At 4:21 PM, Blogger Poster Girl said…

    I was really looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this, considering how long and how much you liked the first one. I think I'd tentatively be somewhat less harsh on the plot (though I definitely agree about the Sharpay thing) and not quite as positive about the soundtrack. That's not to say it doesn't have a lot of songs I'll be listening to on repeat (and the soundtrack's improving in my estimations with every listen), just that there are songs I could do without as well, so I don't think I loved it quite as much as you. The ending song (though what you want to count as the "ending song" is debatable, given the problem you point out) isn't quite as good as "We're All In This Together" and "Fabulous" frustrates me because the concept is good but the song doesn't work for me--the chorus just doesn't have enough to it to be quite catchy enough and so just ends up annoying me, or something. Maybe I just want it to be bigger, to fit with its subject. Even it is improving with listens, though.

     
  • At 4:24 PM, Blogger Poster Girl said…

    Did I mention that I really enjoyed reading the review? It was even useful for helping consolidate my own thoughts on it, even if they weren't entirely the same as yours.

     
  • At 10:47 AM, Anonymous bloghungry said…

    I didn't hate the plot. The rich summer resort setting was clearly a nod to 90210 and Saved by the Bell summer themed episodes.. maybe even Dirty Dancing. The main complaint I have is that there should have been a greater cause for the music show in the end. I wanted them to save a community center or win a competion against a rival resort. Also I needed more teen romance. There really should have been a summer dance or big bonfire hook-up moment for some of the other characters.

     
  • At 12:30 PM, Blogger Joshua said…

    I hate how that last promo pictures matches them all up as couples according to hair texture. Racist!!!

     
  • At 10:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    And yet so progressively pro-incest.

     
  • At 11:16 PM, Anonymous munkyfonkey said…

    Poster Girl. Hush thy mouth. Paper-thin? He was being GENEROUS! Here's to the next two. Mindless shitutainment. More please!

     

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