DVD Review
by Kevin Carr

    MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)
    DVD EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5 stars)

    Zac Efron as TROY BOLTON
    Vanessa Hudgens as GABRIELLA MONTEZ
    Ashley Tisdale as SHARPAY EVANS
    Lucas Grabeel as RYAN EVANS
    Corbin Bleu as CHAD DANFORTH
    Monique Coleman as TAYLOR MCKESSIE

    Rated G
    Studio: Disney

    Directed by: Kenny Ortega

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The students at East Side High are in their senior year. Troy (Zac Efron), Gabriella (Vanessa Hudgens), Chad (Corbin Blue), Sharpay (Ashley Tisdale) and Ryan (Lucas Grabeel) have bigger things on their minds than the school musical. They need to decide where they’re going to college and whether Troy and Gabriella will stay together.

However, they all get sucked into being in the new musical called “Senior Year.” In the musical, they play themselves and act out the challenges they face in school and at home. Troy is trying to decide whether to pursue basketball or drama, and Gabriella is struggling with an acceptance to Stanford which will take her a thousand miles away from Troy.

Say what you want to about the “High School Musical” franchise, but like “Hannah Montana,” you have to respect it for delivering a solid product to a rabid audience. In fact, the “High School Musical” phenomenon is so potent that it is the only time I know of that a made-for-TV movie spawned a big screen sequel.

I enjoy the “High School Musical” movies for what they are – a pop sensation for tween audiences. They’re wholesome romances that throw in some Broadway style into the mix. With Kenny Ortega in the director’s chair for this film, as he had been in the previous two Disney Channel Original Movies, things have the same flavor and style. The biggest difference is that this third installment has a bigger budget and affords cooler sets and a bigger production value. I did appreciate Ortega’s nods to other musicals, including “Grease,” “Chicago” and even “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.”

This isn’t the film for fanboys or arthouse freaks. But for the tweenage girls out there, you can get your Troy Bolton fix with this DVD.

Like many musicals, this film had a bit too many songs in it. There wasn’t the massive overkill that we saw in movies like last year’s “Mamma Mia!” but I did get tired of the longer, drawn-out numbers. Of course, this is to be expected for a musical.

Anything else that didn’t sit right with me – the cheesiness of the plot, the deus ex machina ending, the relatively two-dimensional character that keep Sharpay in the bad girl position – all are part of the Disney Channel Original Movie formula, which is where the film has its roots.

The DVD includes several deleted scenes with introductions by Kenny Ortega. There’s also a blooper reel, a look at the prom dresses for the girls, a behind-the-scenes look at the prom scene, sing-alongs for the different songs and a cast goodbye. (Of course, it’s not good-bye for all of “High School Musical,” considering a fourth DCOM installment is planned with a new cast.)

Tween girls and anyone else who just can’t get enough of Troy Bolton.

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