STUDIO: Disney
MSRP: $16.99
RUNNING TIME: 98 Minutes
•Regular and Sing-Along Viewing Options
•Learning the Moves Featurette
•“I Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” Music Video
•“Breaking Free” Remix Music Video
•“We’re All in This Together” Remix Music Video
•“Eres Tu” Music Video
•High School Reunion Interview Featurette
•Premiere BTS Featurette
•BTS Featurette
•“We’re All In This Together” Music Video

The Pitch

"Hey, wanna make like a zillion dollars?" "You know I do!" "Attractive young people singing and dancing." "IT’S BRILLIANT!"

The Humans

Zac (Hairspray) Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley (The Suite Life of Zack and Cody) Tisdale, Lucas Grabeel, Corbin Bleu and Monique Coleman

While Efron did all he could to quell rumors about his homosexuality, his reaction every time he got close to something with a certain shape was a little too hard to ignore.

The Nutshell

High School kids sing some songs and middle school kids spend a fortune of their parents’ money.

The Lowdown

On a Christmas Vacation, Troy Bolton (Efron) finds himself at a karaoke party, sharing the stage with Gabriella Montez (Hudgens). Afterwards, they part ways, going back to their respective families, sure to never see each other again. At least, that is, until Gabriella is transferred to impossibly perfect East High, where Troy just happens to be the superstar captain of the basketball team. Remembering the musical start to their young love, they sign up for the school’s upcoming musical production and subsequently throw the entire social balance of the school into a weird sort of tailspin. The basketball team questions Troy‘s loyalty, the Academic Decathlon team are desperate to get Gabriella to join the club and everyone in school is taking Troy‘s lead and admitting to liking stuff that falls outside of their group affiliation: one of the skater punks admits to loving the cello; another math nerd admits to loving hip-hop and dancing and one of Troy‘s teammates reveals his love for baking. And that’s not even mentioning the two heads of the drama club, Tisdale’s Sharpay (Seriously? Sharpay? What the hell, man?) and her brother Ryan (Grabeel), who feel that Troy and Gabriella are a threat to their stranglehold on the lead roles in every single school performance. Oh and it should be noted that Ryan and Sharpay are probably the creepiest pair of siblings on film that don’t actually get naked and fondle each other. But I digress…

A little known fact about teenagers – they’re full of so much angst and what not that their Go To Hell looks just may actually work.

So, back to the matter at hand, Troy and Gabriella persevere and end up singing their little pubescent hearts out, bringing everyone together and making them all realize that it’s okay to not be a stereotype. I know it tries really hard to be a metaphor and that it has some really good intentions at heart, but, considering its target audience I think it does a disservice by watering everything down. I keep wanting to compare it to Hairspray because it deals with the same core concepts, but where Hairspray just put everything on the line*, Musical cops out. I’m not saying there aren’t clicks in high school but the way they’re presented here, with such a rigid separation (one of Troy’s teammates actually says “Even the drama geeks and the brainiacs suddenly think they can TALK to us”) it’s obviously a symbol of segregation. And, in my opinion, middle schoolers and tweens are too old for symbols. Hell, if you get right down to it, I don’t think shallow symbolism is good at any age. If you’re going to throw down some social commentary, throw it like you mean it.

Now, even though it fails as My First Movie About Prejudice, it does fair slightly better as a traditional musical. The sign of a good musical is the organic integration of the songs into the film’s progression and, aside from a couple of hiccups, HSM does it fairly well. Only two of the songs just completely suck, while the rest range from annoyingly upbeat (“We’re All in This Together”) to downright snappy (“Bop to the Top.”). It’s obviously one of the weaker offerings in the whole Musical Cinema genre, but as someone who’s naturally a sucker for musicals to begin with, it wasn’t hard to please me in this regard.

Publicity still from the little-known prequel: Constantine In High School

Now, I’ve gone on record on the boards here defending HSM…well, not so much defending, but decrying the amount of hate for it and its cast of cute-in-a-completely-non-sexual-way up-and-comers. And yes, even though it shies away from its own themes and its resulting superficiality has bred a whole fan base full of giggling twelve year olds who love the movie because OMG ZAC EFRON IZ LIEK SO TOTALY HAWT, it’s still a fun, funny, colorful piece of fluff that, as a small part of a well-rounded cultural diet, can be enjoyed on face value alone.

The Package

In the art department, this double-dip showcases our main cast of characters over a blue-curtain background with a big REMIX graphic slapped under the title logo. I actually prefer the standard red-curtain artwork that’s all over the posters and such and was the cover art for the standard, single-disc edition. This isn’t ugly by any means, but the pose the kids are in makes me think that they’re doing a musical version of Hulk Hogan’s ring entrance. Whatcha gonna dooo, indeed.

"RYAN! Someone might see!" "I…don’t…care…"

Now, before I get into the features, I want to touch on a little something – when I started watching these DVDs I actually had both the initial, bare-bones release and the 2-disc special edition, with the intentions of doing a Double-Dip comparison review. However, I soon found it that would be unnecessary, as the only thing different between the original disc and the first disc of this new set is a new menu design and a different label. And what will you find on that first disc? A “Learning the Moves” featurette with the director/choreographer and a music video for a song called “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” (thankfully not a cover of the awesome Frankie Vallie tune). The thing about this song that confuses me is that’s not included anywhere in the movie (or in any sort of deleted scene), yet it’s here in the bonus features as well as on the soundtrack. I’m just a little curious as to where it fist into the whole thing. There’s also a “Sing-Along Version” of the film, which is nothing more than subtitles that pop up during the songs, acting like a sort of karaoke substitute. It’s a great idea in theory and even though its execution is clean and practical, I would have liked to have seen a fancier presentation of it all. But that’s just me – I doubt the rest of the fan base has such discerning tastes.

Some kids told jokes, others played sports, but Danny could channel demons straight outta Hell and that made him the coolest motherfucker in school.

Now, on the second disc, I’ll definitely give Disney an A for effort, as they did try to pack this thing, but unfortunately it’s all fluff (although, considering the target audience, it’s just more fodder for adolescent giggling and swooning). There are more music videos – some for remixed versions of songs from the movie, along with another disembodied song – “Eres Tu.” There are a couple of futurities that are little more than EPK filler and finally, a Dance-Along version of the film in which the cast teaches you step-by-step choreography from a couple of songs in the movie. Fun stuff all around.

At the end of the day, it’s nowhere near the pinnacle of children’s entertainment and more than pales in comparison to other offerings in the genre, but it’s fun and it does everything it sets out to do – including making a zillion dollars in merchandising.

If this were Hogwart’s, Gabriella here would be in some SERIOUS trouble.

* – I, too, wish every day was Negro Day!

OVERALL 7.0 out of 10