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October 25, 2008

It’s band movie weekend here at Lonely Pond Central — or at least musical movies…wandered through Blockbuster and came out with an eclectic collection — The Stains, a 15 year old Diane Lane, Laura Dern and a whole collection of punk rock names, a movie with the Click 5 that I can’t remember the name of so pause here while I try to find it…(play Jeopardy theme — ah, got it, Taking Five), and (finally) an anime choice — Howl’s Moving Castle.  And there was a fourth movie, but Gayle picked it out and I really don’t remember what it was as she refused to agree to either Empire Records or Josie and The Pussycats to keep the band theme going. (CORRECTION: I picked it, it does follow the music theme and it is Prairie Home Companion.)

And then there was High School Musical 3, where all bets are on Zac Efron and you’ll walk away with the feeling that he’s won something besides the girl, the state championship and a solid opening weekend (guesses in our house range from 30 million to 55.)  We went to the pre school lets out matinee and the popcorn scarfing under four and a half feet crowds were gathering on our exit.  Real pause now while I hunt down the Click 5 movie name.

Back to High School Musical 3 — better than HSM 2, not quite as magical as the original, but surprisingly complex — very meta, as I told Gayle, a lot of external(as in sung out loud) internal conflicts rather than conflict between characters. I like part of the wikipedia meta definition: “The term meta also refers back to Roman Times. A “meta” was a structure mounted on the ends of the central spina in Roman chariot races. In many of the Romance languages, the term “meta” is basically an aim or goal. Roman Charioteers would aim their chariots for this pole-like structure during their races, in order to stay on track.”  HSM 3 is a lot about goals and what to aim for.

Sharpay finally gets to do a love song with someone other than her brother.  Actually, over the course of the three movies, I have gained respect for Ashley Tisdale as a comedian and actor.  These movies wouldn’t be nearly as much fun without Sharpay to triumph gloriously over and Ms. Tisdale throws herself into the part with verve and panache (those are very Sharpay words, yes?)

Where was I? High School Musical 3…more complex, but it basically comes down to Troy. Zac Efron gets a show stopper number in “Scream” as well as the opening shot. It was fun to hear the little kids behind me go “ick” on the limited occasions Troy and Gabriella kiss. The Troy-Gabriella relationship still sparks, it’s still a world where everything mostly works out and there’s a lot of singing and dancing, but I don’t think anyone really minds, except for the substitute Financial Times movie critic who mostly commented about how Zac Efron is too short to be a basketball player, which just proves he’s missing several key points the most important of which is the first: no one really cares.

Corbin Bleu didn’t seem to be able to access his sense of humor as well in this one as the other two — which brought down the junkyard number a bit as Mr. Efron managed to make there be funny moments and Mr. Bleu just seemed to be dancing. Vanessa Hudgens still has an amazing voice and is underused as a comic actress — she managed to be funny in a 2 second French maid bit. And contrary to Mr. French’s view, her character is not ever smiling, actually she usually seems a bit too glum, especially in this movie, where she’s leaving everything she likes behind her.

Lucas Grabeel doesn’t get as much to do in this one, but he does it well, including a very nice duet with his female counterpart Kelsi the composer (Olesya Rulin). Anything else — oh, the dresses seemed awfully short for a G rating, but I think the costuming was weaker in this one. Kenny Ortega’s point the camera straight at Zac and keep it there style worked for the dance numbers but was a bit static when fewer actors and less movement were happening in a shot. I thought the end songs were the weakest, but that’s why traditionally Act 3 is the climax, although the audience around us seemed to really get into the already nostalgic final number.

So, in summary, better and more complex than I expected, I still like the first one best and minor points off for the costumer(what was with the one purple sleeve in all the graduation red and white — apparently, I’m color sensitive and it was distracting). Good old fashioned, new fangled fun.

On a household note, Flash apparently did not understand that HSM 3 would not be the Disney Channel Friday night movie and we had to get a rush copy of HSM 2 to avoid fluffy unhappiness (Flash + stress = seizures; there was the day we turned off the “Bet On It” video tricked out with seizure inducing traffic lighting effects to prevent triggering an episode and Flash expressed her displeasure VERY liquidly…from this we gathered Zac Efron plays well with the Maine Coon crowd) so she settled down with the HSM 2 substitute.

And now I probably count as HSMed out and due for dreams with singing trees and basketballs. Good night.

N.B. I realized that I neglected to mention Monique Coleman but that’s probably because she does an excellent job of not being flashy and giving other actors someone to play off of. This is an under appreciated talent and her Taylor is essential to the whole ensemble.

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