Is High School Musical 3 a “Modern-day ‘Grease’?”

25 Oct

I am embarrassingly fond of High School Musical and its sequel. So of course, one might expect that I was at the theaters last night, and ready to review the new installment. But instead, I was curled up on the couch watching Ninja Warrior (Shingo Yamamoto is my favorite!).

I could blame my inertia on the enormous amount of work that life has dealt me this fall, between my own professional life and supporting my kid in a new, highly competitive, very challenging school. But if it were a new Pixar flick that came out last night, you know I would’ve found the time.

My son believes I’m not going because I couldn’t borrow my young nieces, who have a rather busy social schedule. However, I didn’t even call to see if they were free. And my son, of course, is too old (and by his standards the wrong gender) to be interested in the movie, and (by my estimation) too young to enjoy it as camp, so I can’t use him as cover.

I don’t think that’s it, though. I think the heart of it is, in fact, HSM fatigue, exacerbated by high ticket prices and that darn economy. I woulda recorded it had it been on Disney Channel last night, but I can’t get myself to care enough to drive down to the theatre and plunk down those hard-earned bucks. I don’t really need to see another set of Ryan’s hats, at least not enough to get myself out the door. I can’t be bothered to worry about Troy and Gabriella’s relationship. I am a little curious to know whether there’s another homo-erotic dance number (ala “I Don’t Dance” from HSM2), but that can wait.

Now, I do figure the movie will be a smash hit, at least from a box office perspective. There’s not that much out there right now for kids, and listening to Kenny Ortega yesterday on NPR I understand that kids all over the world will be clamoring for another trip to the theatre, much as I somehow managed to see Grease fourteen and a half times the summer it opened (the half? we arrived too early for a matinee in Reno, and watched the second part of the movie while waiting for it to begin again).

So, I find myself on YouTube looking for the original Grease trailer, and instead stumble across a whole lotta Grease/HSM mashups! They’re a little frustrating because of course the lip synch doesn’t work…but they amuse me, and make me laugh so loud that my son is forced to drop his homework, and watch one with me (courtesy of SarBear4Ryan).

Now, the comparison with Grease had been brought to mind this morning by an ad in the paper, claiming that HSM3 is “A modern-day ‘Grease'” (Christopher Tookey, London Daily Mail). And in some ways the comparison is apt: Busby Berkeley dance numbers, high school drama, catchy tunes. But as I watch the mash-up, the differences are right up in my face, and feel rooted in the sexual angst of the 1970s, as if somebody had taken an eye-dropper’s worth of the tension of The Ice Storm and the bravado of real-life teenagers, and injected these directly into the script. Danny Zuko sang of the praises of this “pussy wagon” where he’d be “gettin’ lots of tit,” while Troy Bolton sings of, what exactly? Grease gives us a pregnancy scare, a good girl turning slut to win her man, a fabulously sassy Rizzo trading naughty quips with Zuko even in the all-audiences trailer. HSM2 gives us Troy corrupted by the influence of wealth and expensive Italian loafers.

Of course, it’s not impossible to completely neuter Grease, even without mashing it into HSM. My son pointed me at the truly amazing Lego Summer Nights video (courtesy of demondoggz), and I gotta say no matter how many times I hear Lego Zuko talk about the “horny details,” I just can’t think of Legos that way.

Yeah, I’ll probably get High School Musical 3 on Netflix as soon as it comes out on DVD. But I might well watch Grease again first. For the fifteenth-and-a-half time.

2 Responses to “Is High School Musical 3 a “Modern-day ‘Grease’?””

  1. Justin J. Clark October 30, 2008 at 7:36 pm #

    I just have to say that even the title of this post amused me to no end because, just two nights ago, I was explaining the basic idea and plot line of High School Musical to my wife and she interrupted me: “Oh, it’s Grease,” she said. “Well, no,” I said and tried to explain more until she interrupted again. “It’s Grease,” she said, this time with little more conviction and a trace of smugness in her voice. I started to protest again, stopped for a moment, thought about it for a bit, and said, “Yeah, it’s Grease.” It’s Disney and it’s thirty years later, so it’s a heck of a lot more sanitized, but the two movies definitely share some similarities in their broad outlines. “Well, if you’re going to steal,” I said, “Steal from the best.”


  1. Excuse Me, May I Have This Gradu-Dance? « Broke Hoedown - October 30, 2008

    […] Embarrassing: Going to see High School Musical 3 by myself, especially since I was so sure I wouldn’t. […]

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