DVD Review: High School Musical
By Jeff Swindoll May 24, 2006, 21:54 GMT
Gabriella Montez is a shy, studious new student at East High School; but that all changes when she is forced to sing at a karaoke contest with Troy Bolton, the captain of the school\'s basketball team. After spending time with each other, both realize they share a passionate love for music and singing. But will they retain this love when their school is telling them they cannot be together? ...more
Though the story has familiar elements (Romeo and Juliet, character going against what he’s expected to be) High School Musical obviously makes connections with its audience. Now, the Disney Channel massive hit comes to DVD. The show is also being taken on the road with a new High School Musical Concert Tour. Click here to read more about it.
The first showing pulled in 7.7 million viewers with an estimated 34 million by the end of the run. The great soundtrack doesn’t hurt things either (it’s been on top of the Billboard soundtrack chart for awhile). It has the usual Disney Channel overacting, but overall I really enjoyed the show thanks to the soundtrack. The musical numbers cover all the bases, urban pop, salsa, ballads, etc.
Troy (Zac Efron) and Gabriella (Vanessa Anne Hudgens) are with their parents at a ski resort for the New Years Eve holiday. While attending the teen party, they’re thrown together for karaoke and find that they sing well together. They both go their separate ways but Gabriella transfers into Troy’s high school.
The school is having auditions for the school musical, but Sharpay (Ashley Tisdale) and Ryan (Lucas Grabeel) Evans are the anointed stars of the show (they arrive at the audition with prearranged musical arrangement and choreography – snooty brats). Gabriella wants to audition for the musical, but no one will sing with her until the smitten Troy volunteers.
The auditions are over, but drama teacher Mrs. Darbus (Alyson Reed) overhears them singing the song to the show’s composer Kelsi (Olesya Rulin) and lists them for a callback. This throws Sharpay and Ryan into a tizzy since no one gets a callback but them and also shocks Troy’s best friend Chad (Corbin Bleu) when Troy’s name is on the callback list. This also throws the school into chaos since everyone has to stay in their clique and Troy is a star basketball player crossing over into drama geek territory violates those unwritten rules.
Not to mention that fact that Troy’s dad Coach Bolton (Bart Johnson) is Mrs. Darbus’ mortal enemy and is mad at his son for missing practices to rehearse for the musical. Chad teams up with Gabriella’s new friend Taylor (Monique Coleman) to plan a way to keep Troy on the basketball side and Gabriella in her proper place in the math club competition team. Their trickery causes both Troy and Gabriella to suffer. They work things out but the villainous Sharpay changes the callbacks to be at the same day and time as the big basketball game and math competition.
I don’t think that the Disney Channel knew the impact that this show would have. The ratings were enormous - 34 million people have watched the show by some estimates. They repeated the show in several different versions, a sing along version (which is on this DVD) and a dance along version. They also use the show’s stars in promotions, commercials, etc.
High School Musical is presented in fullscreen as it was shown on television. This is a little disappointing since clips from the show on the featurette appear to be letterboxed at 1.85:1. Why wasn’t a separate anamorphic widescreen version released?
Special features include two music videos. They’re located under the “Music and more” option on the bonus features menu. “I can’t take my eyes off of you” is listed as never seen before and has the main cast performing the song in a studio. “We’re all in this together” is the next one and is made up of clips from the show.
Under this section is where you access the option to watch the sing along version which puts highlighted words under all the big production musical numbers so that the audience can sing along (and no, I did not sing along).
Under the “Backstage Disney” there is a 9 minute featurette entitled “Bringing it all Together : the making of High School Musical.” It has interviews with actors Ashley Tisdale, Zac Efron, Lucas Grabeel, Corbin Bleu, Monique Coleman, Vanessa Anne Hudgens, director/choreographer Kenny Ortega, associate choreographers Bonnie Story and Charles Klapow and basketball technical director Rob Lafallet.
There’s also another featurette called “Learning the Moves” where Ortega, Story, Klapow, Tisdale and Grabeel show some dance moves. There’s an option to watch the finished product from different angles (all three, close up of rehearsal, wide angle of rehearsal, final movie). Finally there are Disney sneak peaks trailers.
I enjoyed the movie and songs. However, I can’t help but sniff the potential for a double dip around the bend. Disney Channel has already made rumblings that High School Musical 2 is in the works. I can imagine when that one hits the tube that another DVD could come out (hopefully in widescreen and director/cast commentary included).
Judging from all the themed (sing along, dance along) versions that have aired on the channel, the powers that be really don’t a problem with multiple releases. They’ve also re-released the soundtrack CD in a new version. Maybe I’m just being pessimistic (I will stick out my tongue and say I told you so when it happens though).
Fans of the film will definitely want to pick up this copy, until something better comes along, since it can found cheaply. It would also make a great rental for family movie night, sing along if you must.
High School Musical is also set to hit the road with a live tour with some of the stars from the movie. Click here to read more about it. High School Musical is now available at Amazon. As of yet, there is not a release date for the UK. Visit the DVD’s database for more information.