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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.

A Gay Whirl at Disneyland!

16 Sep

How fabulous is it that this vintage Disneyland ad showed up in Kevin Kidney’s blog the same week that Google news reminded me about Gay Days at Disneyland coming up October 3-5? Sigh…yet another fabulous event I’d love to attend, were it not for my ridiculously full (and admittedly wonderful) work and family life.

Man, the world has changed so much since I came out in 1985…when I went to the Gay Days web site, there was a big (and I’m guessing paid) ad for JoinLAPD.com. I remember years ago marching in Boston’s Lesbian and Gay Pride March (it was not yet a Parade, but still rather political), I remember the intense and solemn support for the Gay Officers Action League…it was still almost unthinkable that cops could come out. (And of course, I know this is still the case in many communities….I know the whole world ain’t LA…)

I’m digging the fact that KayCee Stroh of High School Musical is hosting a youth dance party, for those 20 and younger! My regular readers already know that I think HSM2 is wonderfully, irrepressibly queer, and a fabulous message to gay teens. I also feel the sudden need for a shout out to the Boston Alliance for Gay and Lesbian Youth, which certainly helped this bi chick get through her teen years mostly unscathed, and a bit better educated about the history of our community.

And I’m grooving on some of the merchandise…I’m particularly partial to this Gay Days 2008 pin! I must say I’m a bit disappointed by the t-shirts though! They show one of the shirts being worn by a lady, but clearly they’re all boy-cut shirts…nothing for the femmes among us. What gives? Who knows, maybe I’ll buy one anyway….I’ve got a pair of cutting sheers, I’d probably be able to turn it into something cute for MouseFest, right?

And hey, if anybody’s interested in learning more about the history of Gay Days Anaheim, you might want to check out Rethinking Disney: Private Control, Public Dimensions. It includes an essay, “Curiouser and Curiouser: Gay Days at the Disney Theme Parks,” which turned me onto thinking analytically and critically about the whole Disney Parks experience.

High School Musical Photoshop Blunder

19 May

I just love the PhotoshopDisasters blog . . . they entertain me every ding-dong day! Today, my blogreader brought me this gem, which shows a bit more impalement and extra digits than one would have expected from the squeaky-clean HSM crew.

Apparently Disney found the problem, and fixed it in subsequent products. But that doesn’t make it any less funny.

High School Musical 4?

9 Apr

If you’re worried that you’ll have nothing to look forward to after High School Musical 3, fear not: The Hollywood Reporter tells us that another movie’s in the works:

“We are writing ‘High School Musical 4,’ ” Disney Channel Worldwide president Rich Ross confirmed Tuesday after a presentation at a midtown Manhattan recording studio. It’s likely to be a TV movie unlike “High School Musical 3: Senior Year,” though that could change.

The news comes as the stars of the two smash hit TV movies are preparing for production on the third installment of the series, which will begin filming in two weeks in Utah. There’s no word on whether the cast and behind-the-scenes talent will gather again for “HSM4,” though some characters introduced in the third go-round likely will star in the fourth.

There, now don’t you feel better already?

Hat tip: The Disney Blog.

HSM Dinner Show at Defunct Dixie Stampede?

25 Feb

I’m way behind the news cycle, and I know it. But since I’m a High School Musical fan, and Mr Broke Hoedown’s quite fond of Dolly Parton, I can’t resist blogging about Jim Hill’s February 18 post, with the rumor that Disney’s considering putting a High School Musical dinner theater in the building formerly known as Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede. He writes:

The way this story was told to me … WDW Entertainment allegedly toured the Dixie Stampede complex earlier this month because they’re toying with the idea of leasing this now-vacant facility for a few years and then turning it into a Disney’s “High School Musical” -themed dinner theatre experience.

Now I know that this may sound like a very bizarre idea. But please keep in mind that the Walt Disney Company is continuing to look for ways to cash in on this still-popular brand. And if offering WDW guests a chance to visit a faux version of East High, where they could then eat off of cafeteria trays while they watched performers recreate numbers from “High School Musical” & “High School Musical 2,” could be a new way to milk the HSM cash cow … Well, you can then understand why Mouse House management is reportedly at least giving this idea some semi-serious thought.

There’s a lot of reasons why this makes sense . . . and a whole lot more reasons why it probably won’t happen, as Hill details in his article.

It is entirely too embarrassing to admit that I’d probably enjoy an HSM dinner show. On the other hand, it would take some serious bribery to get Broke Hoedown Jr to accompany me, and he joins me for most of my trips to Walt Disney World. So if this rumor comes to pass (which I consider highly unlikely), I might just have to consider going during MouseFest, since he’ll be safely at home with his dad, unencumbered by fabulous Wildcats fans.

“High School Musical 3: Senior Year”?

4 Feb

Maybe I’ve just been out of the loop . . . it’s not like I haven’t fallen behind on my reading lately. But somehow I’d missed the fact that High School Musical 3 seems to have a new title, again . . . “High School Musical 3: Senior Year.”

Comicbookbin.com ran a short piece about this recently, with a remarkably content-free plot summary:

“High School Musical 3: Senior Year” finds high school seniors Troy and Gabriella facing the prospect of being separated from one another as they head off in different directions to college. Joined by the rest of the Wildcats, they stage an elaborate spring musical reflecting their experiences, hopes and fears about their future. With incredible new music and exciting dance numbers designed to take maximum advantage of the big screen, this motion picture extravaganza delivers plenty of high-energy entertainment from East High’s talented ensemble.

I gotta admit, I preferred the previously-rumored title “Gradu-dancing,” or the even-earlier “Haunted High School Musical,” though I should have known neither one could last. Too fabulously campy to be true!

And, um, why am I finding this in ComicBookBin? Is there some HSM comic book series I’ve been missing out on? I’m a multi-faceted geek, I really gotta keep an eye out for these things.

More Entertainment Options Coming to HK Disneyland

19 Dec

From The HKDL Source:

Today Bill Ernest, Executive Vice President and Managing Director of Hong Kong Disneyland, announced four new entertainment initiatives for 2008 – Muppet Mobile Lab, High School Musical Celebration, Nemo Submarine “Turtle Talk” and The Art of Animation.

“As part of our continuing strategy to enhance our Guests’ experience, we are excited to add new attractions and entertainment offerings in 2008 that truly showcase the magic of Disney’s cutting-edge technology, its timeless stories and beloved characters, who will appeal to Guests of all ages,” said Ernest. “After entertaining millions of Guests in our first two years of operation, Hong Kong Disneyland will continue to find new, immersive ways to delight families from Hong Kong and all over Asia for many years to come.”

Starting in spring 2008, these four new entertainment offerings will be unveiled to Guests at Hong Kong Disneyland. These experiences are in addition to the already-announced classic Disney attraction it’s a small world – which will include entertainment features unique to Hong Kong Disneyland.

I’m sure none of these really do much for park capacity, but they might give Guests a little more bang for their buck, and perhaps keep morale high on those unusual peak days when lines are long.

Videos: Corbin Bleu Visits Disney Studios Paris

21 Oct

High School Musical star Corbin Bleu visited the Disneyland Resort Paris recently, and DLRP has the videos to prove it. Disney Parks fans will likely appreciate the footage of the Walt Disney Studios Park, especially the afternoon parade and Crush’s Coaster. Bleu fans will of course want to watch both. (And notice the man riding Rockin’ Roller Coaster with Bleu? I believe that may be his dad, who co-starred with him in the Disney Channel movie Jump In!. Can anybody confirm or deny?)

I don’t know how well the High School Musicals translate to a European audience . . . the underlying messages about class and individuality have a distinctly American sensibility, but of course pretty, well-groomed teenagers have universal appeal.

All In This Together: Goths, High School Musical 2, and Growing Up Gay

20 Aug

applescruff’s blog at Progressive U comments on being a Disneyland Cast Member during Bat’s Day at the Fun Park (aka Goth Day):

At first, I didn’t realize that some of my fellow cast members were frightened of these guests. Something about their black makeup and reputation made the Bats crowd intimidating, I suppose. I really didn’t notice. In high school, I had stepped out of my comfort zone and made friends with a few goths, to discover that, more often than not, they were far nicer than the “normal” people. It might have been because I was a misfit myself, but I believe they would have opened up the same way to anyone. As for the Disneyland guests, they came to have fun, same as anyone else. It was annoying to me that I had to initiate contact with “scary people” because…well, they were scary. Even after one of them managed to talk with one of the goths to discover that yes, I was right, they can be very nice, the cast members seemed very nervous about them.

Apparently, despite having it drilled into our heads from the time we are old enough to watch our first episode of Sesame Street, most people do not remember not to “judge a book by it’s cover.” It doesn’t matter that this particular event took place at Disneyland, because I see it all the time. I’ve been a victim of this kind of thing for as long as I can remember. I come from Long Beach, so I’m automatically into drugs, rap, and because of the high school I attended, I’m possibly mentally unstable, part of a gang, and prone to violence. It doesn’t matter that people get these ideas from poorly researched television programs and films, it must be true because that’s what they know. I’m also preppy because I’m intelligent, and therefore I must have good grades (niether of which is entirely true). I am supposedly a hippy, therefore (again) a druggie, because I like to listen to sixties and seventies music. The list goes on and on. Worse, because I have an uncommon and not-very-phoenetic name, people tend to think I’m weird anyway without even learning more than my name.

And while we’re being asked not to judge books by their covers . . . I’m reminded of a post I saw earlier today on the QueerSighted Gay Blog, discussing whether High School Musical 2 is “chock full of gay:”

Perhaps disturbed by the gay subtext [in High School Musical] that was pointed out to them by homosexuals with agendas, Disney attempts to butch up High School Musical 2, removing all traces of queer allegory and metaphor and amping up the heterosexual love triangle. Even so, this sequel (which exists in a parallel universe where the high school experience is so watered down that it might as well be clear) is perhaps even gayer than the first movie.

I must say, it did occur to me that the “I Don’t Dance” scene was as laden with coded references and knowing glances as any Hays Code-era Hollywood blockbuster. Ryan’s the pitcher, eh? Not surprising at all, to those of us who’ve spent a good bit of time wearing the pink hats ourselves. And did anyone else think it was odd that Troy could even pretend to be jealous when Ryan slung his arm, with platonic affection, around Gabriella’s shoulders?

It would seem we’re confronted with a post-modern dilemma: Do we choose to view Ryan’s fabulous, fey mannerisms as thinly-veiled references to his homosexuality, or do we embrace the notion that hetero men should also be free to love show tunes and camp it up? Either way, Ryan saves the day, so does it matter? Not to me. I’m a big fan of both gay rights and gender aberration, so either way I’m all for it.

But more to the point . . . maybe Ryan’s sexual orientation does matter if you’re a gay teen growing up today, watching High School Musical 2 and thinking maybe, just maybe, it’s okay to be who you are. Could it be possible that we really are all in this together?

High School Musical 2: All About the Shoes, Baby

18 Aug

I watched the premiere of High School Musical 2 last night, along with my son and two of my adorable nieces. There was, predictably, much support for the right side of the blatant class warfare, and much swooning over the clean-cut, sharply-pressed teen stars.

If you watched it, you don’t need me to summarize; if you didn’t watch it, I’m sure you don’t care to hear the basic plot details anyway. But here are the crucial stats and highlights, from the point of view of my living room television audience:

  • Ryan wore a total of 12 hats. One could be fairly certain of his emotional sea-change when he slipped on Chad’s baseball cap, and then actually wore one multi-color hat for an entire day. It would seem that his constantly-changing fabulous headgear was a side-effect of chasing rainbows with his drama-queen sister.
  • Chad’s t-shirts are the must-have fashion accessory of the summer. Everybody needs a t-shirt reading “Warning: Do Not Read This Shirt” or “He Did It.” Or, one viewer’s favorite, “I majored in vacation” (which, conveniently enough, is in fact available from DisneyShopping.com). But most elusive was the final t-shirt, which appeared to have text inside the silhouette of a television. Multiple, exhaustive attempts to freeze-frame at just the right moment were foiled; it would seem that the shirt never appeared close enough to the camera, and unobstructed enough, to read the text.
  • Based on the comments of various characters in the movie in talking to Troy, the entire movie can easily be boiled down into a parable of how well-made, expensive Italian shoes can disrupt one’s personal relationships and spiritual development.
  • Nobody should ever rhyme “beef” with “teeth,” even in a song about dental floss.

Having learned these important lessons, we now await patiently for the next installment: High School Musical 3: Gradu-Dancin’ (formerly titled Haunted High School Musical). My hope? That the under appreciated Kelsi will finally get some serious screen time and a little more emphasis in the plot. Ryan’s just had his well-deserved day in the sun . . . so c’mon people, let the geeky girl save the day next time!

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