High School Musical (2006)

(On TV, January 2017) I have a list. A list of movies. Popular movies. It’s generated automatically from votes on a web site. I don’t ask why the movies are popular—I just record them off the TV, watch them and cross them off the list. The list tells me what to do. I don’t question the list. The list told me to watch High School Musical. I did. I don’t dislike musical, but I really didn’t realize that this is a Disney Channel made-for-TV movie. I’m a grown man. I will watch what I want. I will feel no shame about it. Even if it means watching something made for tweenagers. Fortunately, High School Musical isn’t too bad, considering its pedigree. The sugared squeaky-clean fantasy vision of a high school is a welcome antidote to far darker movies. (High School Musical vs Brick; discuss!) The actors are all preposterously good-looking, but the small treat here is seeing Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens in likable but soft-edged early roles, almost as prototypes of the screen persona they’d build over the following decade. Of the songs, I liked the ironic “Stick to the Status Quo”, but couldn’t find anything else to hum. I’m far from being the target audience for this film, but I found it charming and inoffensive—I’ll take that over downbeat bore-fests passing themselves off as grown-up entertainment most days of the week. And that’s the power of the list I follow: It takes me away from my comfort zone.

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