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Walt Disney Home Video presents
High School Musical (2006)

Gabriella: Well, you sound like you've done a lot of singing too.
Troy: Yeah, my showerhead is very impressed.

- Zac Efron, Vanessa Anne Hudgens

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: August 10, 2006

Stars: Zac Efron, Vanessa Anne Hudgens
Other Stars: Ashley Tisdale, Lucas Grebeel, Alyson Reed, Corbin Bleu, Monique Coleman, Bart Johnson, Olesya Rulin, Chris Warren Jr., Ryne Sanborn
Director: Kenny Ortega

MPAA Rating: G for (wholesome antics)
Run Time: 01h:37m:40s
Release Date: May 23, 2006
UPC: 786936693652
Genre: musical

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B+AB D+

DVD Review

When I saw commercials for the January premiere of High School Musical on the Disney Channel (Yes, I watch the Disney Channel. No, I don't have kids. Shut up.), I thought it looked just dorky enough to TiVo, but I never got around to actually watching it. Looks like I was the only one—it has since become the channel's most popular program ever, attracting more than 10 million sets of eyeballs with subsequent re-airings and producing a soundtrack that has sold more than a million copies. At one time, its songs made up over half of the top ten iTunes downloads. A version has already been written for school theater groups, and plans are underway to send it to Broadway. Not bad for a relentlessly cheery, squeaky-clean tween take on Grease.

The plot is about as straightforward as the title. Adorable teens Troy (Zac Efron) and Gabriella (Vanessa Anne Hudgens) meet at a party on New Year's Eve and are pushed into singing a karaoke duet, sealing their romantic comedy fate. The fact that they are from different states means little, since Gabriella is coincidentally transferred after Christmas break. They're kept apart not by social barriers (the Mouse is colorblind, you know), but by their commitment to extracurriculars. Troy is leading the basketball team to the championship and Gabby is running "math drills" for the academic decathlon.

Troy and Gabby are drawn together by, you guessed it, the high school musical, even though Troy thinks rehearsals might hurt the basketball team's chances (though I don't see why he cares, since the team's practices involve elaborately staged song and dance routines anyway—"You gotta get-cha, get-cha, get-cha, get-cha head in the game, and don't be afraid to shoot the outside J!"). Then there are the villains of the piece, siblings Sharpay and Ryan (Ashley Tisdale and Lucas Grabeel), who are used to being cast as the headliners in every musical (As romantic leads? Ew.), and vow to take down the lovebirds.

Directed and choreographed by Kenny Ortega, who has helmed episodes of TV shows like Gilmore Girls and served as choreographer for the trashy '80s time capsule Dirty Dancing, High School Musical never quite lets you forget it's a made-for-TV affair, but the production numbers are pretty neat, and the cast of Disney indentured servants is suitably chipper. Though they don't resemble any high school students I've ever encountered—everyone acts like they're in an orange juice commercial ("Hey, Sunny D! Thanks, mom!").

Who can say why the show has caught on? The songs are certainly catchy enough, with on-the-nose lyrics ("Everyone is special!") that tweens won't mind, or probably even notice, and the jock-brain romance is sweet, but it strikes me as no better or worse than most of what the Disney Channel produces (it's certainly got its share of non-humor "humor" cribbed from old sit-coms). But they know their market, and the tween crowd will no doubt lap up the forthcoming sequel(s). Meanwhile, look for the original on stage at a middle school near you.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Made for TV, High School Musical was shot full frame, but the transfer is still really nice looking. Colors are very bright and detail is good. The image is clean, free of print defects, digital artifacts, and edge enhancement.

Image Transfer Grade: A


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The DD 5.1 audio does a good job of opening things up. The front soundstage handles most of the action, but the surrounds kick in to provide atmosphere and give the musical sequences some punch.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
8 Other Trailer(s) featuring Leroy and Stitch, Brother Bear 2, Spymate, Eight Below, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, The Little Mermaid, Meet the Robinsons, CowBelles
2 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. I Can't Take My Eyes Off of You and We're All In This Together music videos
Extras Review: Note that this is not a special edition but an "Encore Edition" (so called, I'm sure, because everyone who will buy it has probably already seen it a dozen times on Disney Channel). What I'm saying is, don't expect too much in the way of extras.

Aside from short music videos for I Can't Take My Eyes Off of You (3m:00s) and We're All In This Together (01m:28s), there are two fluffy featurettes. The making-of (08m:42s) is all promotional interviews and proclamations of love, and very light on substance, unless you consider it a revelation to learn making the movie was "fun." Learning the Moves (04m:14s), hosted by director/choreographer Kenny Ortega, ostensibly deals with how the actors learned the steps, but really all they do is perform a dance they obviously already know while Ortega stands there, clapping out a rhythm. Maybe they are magic handclaps.

The disc is loaded with trailers for Leroy and Stitch, Brother Bear 2 (eh?), Spymate (Sky Kids with a chimp), Eight Below, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody (twice), The Little Mermaid, Meet the Robinsons, CowBelles, and the TV show with my most favorite title ever, That's So Raven. (Try saying it to a random person, it's fun! I mean, it's so Raven!)

Extras Grade: D+


Final Comments

A relentlessly perky, incessantly wholesome Disney production, High School Movie is a cheesy blend its target tweener audience will genuinely enjoy; everyone else can pretend they're doing so ironically (and remember, your secret shame is only secret if it stays that way, so don't leave the movie lying around). It doesn't matter what I say about the DVD, because this thing is going to sell out like a Justin Timberlake concert. Plus if I pan it, I will be beaten up by 13-year-olds and their mothers, and once was enough.


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