Complete A-Z list

High School Musical 3: Senior Year


Stars: Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Corbin Bleu, Lucas Grabeel, Nonique Coleman, Olesya Rulin, Chris Warren Jr, Ryne Sanborn, Kaycee Stroh, Bart Johnson, Alyson Reed

Director: Kenny Ortega

Some films, like the never-ending ‘Saw’ shockers which very sensibly are no longer given press shows, have their guaranteed audiences and are quite critic proof. So, too, is this enthusiastically energetic musical. Given the huge audiences and legions of young fans that have been garnered by Disney’s hugely popular made-for-television musicals, this first big-screen version of the franchise cannot fail to entertain its perfectly catered-for demographic.

It would be hard to fail to recognise the paper-thin plot confected by Peter Barsocchini – it’s simply another lazy take on Hollywood’s beloved ‘let’s put on a show’ fairytale decorated with basketball, high school graduation and star-crossed lovers (of course), set in a Albuquerque high school whose senior class, under the direction of deliciously cliched drama teacher Reed, are staging the eponymous musical.

Series regulars - teen idol Efron and Hudgens - are the star crossed lovers, while comic relief is left to lesser players with Tisdale’s bitchy limelight-hogging wannabe star stealing the acting honours with an amusing cleaned-up-for-teenagers portrait of a spoiled school bitch. Hudgens is delightful and does well with the lively but unmemorable songs and Efron’s undoubted energy, good looks and attractive personality (perhaps one shouldn’t mention he’s a tad short to be a basketball star) are perfectly suited to his role - and he can dance up a storm. They may not be Rooney and Garland but they’re just what their fans want. And how could anyone possible resist a young hero who turns up for the prom wearing a tuxedo and trainers? Or a heroine whose prom dress disturbingly resembles a pregnancy smock? (Unthinkable, of course – these high schoolers are whiter than white, as befits the Disney label).

Which is a really good thing since the musical numbers, notably an all-singing. all-dancing basketball game, a dazzling number that begins in the school cafeteria and ends up by out-dazzling Broadway, lift the show above its banal storyline. All credit to co-choreographer/director Ortega. And the moral, should you want one? “The stage can be a wonderful partner in the process of self-discovery”.

Alan Frank

USA 2008. UK Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures. Colour.
111 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: U.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 22 Oct 2008