High School Musical 2 (review)

I will admit to a certain curiosity about the Disney tween phenomenon, and I will admit that my first look at it left me far more charmed that I had expected to be. All these sweet-faced kids singing and dancing their little hearts out about adolescent love and the joy of putting on a talent show? By golly, it’s like something out of the pastel-bright, cheerfully innocent early 1960s, before free love and cheap drugs popped our cultural cherry. By gosh, these kids… they’re the Mousketeers come again! Eleventh-grade lovebirds Troy (Zac Efron: Hairspray) and Gabriella (Vanessa Hudgens: Thunderbirds) have scored choice jobs at a local country club for the summer before senior year — little do they realize, at first, that this has been arranged by the alpha hottie of their class, the hilariously named Sharpay (Ashley Tisdale: Donnie Darko), who wants Troy for her very own. Of course, even she, the putative villain, isn’t really a bad kid — she’s just a little bit less friendly, good-natured, and enthusiastic than all the rest of them. Oh, it makes me a little bit sad to think that 20 years ago, when I was in high school, this would have been called The Breakfast Club and had some real edge to it, but who can complain when these high-schoolers are so darn nice? And how can I deny that it would have been a dream come true to those breakfast-clubbers to see everyone — black, white, and brown, fat and skinny, whatever — all not only accepted by the cool kids but downright fabulous cool kids themselves? This extended-edition DVD adds a spectacular Hawaiian-themed musical number that did not appear in the TV version that aired last summer (to huge ratings), and extras include bloopers, a karaoke feature, and a rather fascinating behind-the-scenes look at how the dancers rehearsed their big numbers. [buy at Amazon]

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