The Disney Channel Original Movie High School Musical
is a combination of backstage action and Grease
without the unwholesome habits. Scoring record ratings at the time of its January 2006 broadcast, it's a smash hit with tween audiences (ages 6 to 10), but appealing for all ages. At a New Year's Eve party, Troy (Zac Efron of the WB's Summerland
) has a chance meeting with Gabriella (Vanessa Anne Hudgens) when they share a karaoke song. Lo and behold, when school resumes, they discover that Gabriella has just transferred to Troy's East High School, a campus divided into tight cliques of jocks, cheerleaders, brainiacs, and skater dudes. Eager to recapture the magic they'd discovered during karaoke, Troy and Gabriella consider auditioning for the school's upcoming musical, much to the dismay of the school's frost queen/theater goddess, Sharpay (Ashley Tisdale of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody
). Problem is, Troy is also the star of the basketball team and Gabrielle is being recruited to compete in the Scholastic Decathlon. Will they give up their cliques to start something new, or will they do as the show's first big anthem urges and "Stick to the Status Quo"? Well, this is a Disney movie, so maybe the sacrifices won't be that hard, and even the hints of romance are mild.
The bestselling soundtrack is catchy in that Disney-pop kind of way, mixing in a dash of hip-hop ("Getcha Head in the Game," punctuated by squeaky basketball shoes and other sound effects), salsa ("Bop to the Top"), and the endearingly hammy ("What I've Been Looking For" performed by Sharpay and her brother, Ryan, played by Lucas Gabreel). It's not hard to imagine High School Musical becoming a semi-staple for high school groups to perform themselves. --David Horiuchi
On the DVD
The two-disc Remix Edition of High School Musical retains all the bonus features of the original DVD and adds a Spanish audio track and 34 minutes of new features. Following a couple minutes of red-carpet interviews from the DVD release party, "High School Reunion" (6 min.) gathers the cast for some more interviews, glimpses of their other Disney Channel credits, and appearances on the Teen Choice Awards and in London and Sydney. The longest feature is the dance-along, in which the cast teaches the choreography for "Get'cha Head in the Game" and "We're All in This Together." At 16 minutes, it allows for move-by-move instruction followed by half- and full-speed runthroughs, though they're facing the camera, so home participants will have to figure out the mirror image or simply ignore the left-right directions and do it backward. And because this is the Remix Edition, there are videos of the remixed versions of "Breaking Free" and "We're All in This Together" as well as a video of "Eres Tu," a Spanish version of "What I've Been Looking For" (the Ryan and Sharpay version) by Mexican band Belanova. Retained from the original DVD are the sing-along subtitles, the making-of featurette, the "Bop to the Top" rehearsal, and the music videos for "We're All in This Together" and "I Can't Take My Eyes Off of You." Not included in this version: the trivia-packed "pop-up edition" that debuted on the Disney Channel on Thanksgiving weekend 2006. So even if the Remix Edition is a little thin for two discs, fans will enjoy the new stuff while they wait for High School Musical 2. --David Horiuchi