As with its predecessors, in order to enjoy “High School Musical 3” you’ll just have to accept its absurdity, occasionally awful dialogue and squeaky-clean style.
In the fantasy world of “High School Musical 3” everyone receives scholarships to Yale, Stanford and Julliard; 25-foot-tall banners of popular students decorate the cafeteria and high-school seniors don’t want to get drunk at prom. If you can stomach a few gag-inducing scenes, the rest is pure entertainment.
This time around, Troy Bolton (Zac Efron) and friends decide to put on one last show before graduation, inspired by their dramatic lives as seniors. Along the way there’s some arguing amongst friends, questioning of the future and soul searching in practically the same form as the first two installments.
It’s a testament to the songwriters’ abilities that they’re still able to craft enjoyable songs based on the same themes: Sharpay thinking she’s fabulous (the Roxie Hart-meets-Britney Spears “I Want it All”); Troy and Gabrielle being in love (the charming “Can I Have This Dance”) and getting into fights (“Walk Away”); and everyone reconciling at the end to stay BFFs (“High School Musical”).
As the first installment released in theaters, “High School Musical 3” transfers smoothly to the silver screen. A bigger budget allows for flashier sets and costumes.
The props for the school play in the first movie consisted solely of a ladder and cardboard moon. Now there are grand staircases, dancing skyscrapers, life-size houses and 30-member chorus lines. Most of the flashy scenery still looks hand-painted, though, preventing the film from flying too far from its amateur setting.
As always, Charles Klapow’s choreography is incredibly impressive, and the young cast remains funny and energetic (although Ashley Tisdale’s Sharpay comes off as more of a conniving bitch than usual).
A few new characters have been added – most likely so that the franchise could continue – but they come off as too cartoonish. The ending wraps up the Wildcats’ story nicely. The sentimental graduation and prom scenes even made me want to go back to high school, even if the one here is a fourth grade version of it.