Friday, November 14, 2008

High School Musical 3: Senior Year

Oh, the High School Musical series. Someday, I'll consider watching one of these, but then I'll think better of it, and maybe make a sandwich and play a little Tetris. Of course, if some newspaper or TV show was going to pay me to watch it and write about it, I'd be all over that action with neither a bitch nor a moan. Let's see if the folks who do get paid to do it did their jobs.

Here's what Metacritic opted to pull from today's cast of critics:

First up we've got Owen Gleibermann of Entertainment Weekly, who tells us, "These are standard youth-movie dilemmas, but they're brought to life by the high-energy cast and the musical numbers, which Ortega shoots with electrifying pizzazz."

Owen, this would be a fine review if it didn't evoke images of Sandinistas gunning down high school students. Which, one must assume, would make High School Musical 3 a very different movie indeed.

Tasha Robinson of the Chicago Tribune says, "What it lacks in narrative ambition, it makes up for in dazzling choreography."

So, in other words, we really should just watch That's Entertainment again, right? Sorry, Tasha, you're not really explaining the HSM phenomenon at all. I'm pretty sure the words "beautiful people" and "non-threatening boys" should be thrown in somewhere...but hey, I'm just guessing from seeing one print ad.

Catherine Dawson March of The Globe and Mail (Toronto) writes, "Disney raised the stakes by turning its hit TV-movie franchise into a feature film – and the bet has paid off."

Catherine, is this a review? A financial report? Empty copy for an undeserved paycheck? Congratulations on not offending anyone. By the way, the job title is "Film Critic". On the other hand, if this is your way of hiding the fact that you didn't actually watch the movie, hats off to you!

Finally! Look, it's a well-written review! Perry Seibert of TV Guide says, "It's a well-produced yearbook that will one day bring back sweet memories for the cast and fans, but probably won't be of interest to anyone who wasn't part of the scene."

Thank you, Perry. You're the only published critic who clearly states the film's purpose and notability--or, in this case, lack thereof. Great stuff.

Lawrence Toppman of the Charlotte Observer calls HSM3 "A sweet, innocent look at an impossibly idealized high school world."

Hmm. "Impossibly idealized" must mean "everybody is gorgeous, and there's one token overweight girl". You know, I really feel bad for the future self-images of girls who look at pictures from these movies all the time.

These next two reviews, first from Anthony Lane of The New Yorker, and the second from Stephanie Zacharek of, form such a wonderful pair when taken together, I'm just going to present them one after the other:

Anthony: "They give excellent value for money, launching into song the way that normal folk go to the bathroom--regularly, politely, and because, if they didn't, well, darn it, they might just burst."
Stephanie: "This is a movie that offers simple, buouyant pleasures."

It's these happy accidents that really make this project worthwhile. Let's wash our hands and move on.

Marjorie Baumgarten of the Austin Chronicle says: "Teenthrob Efron will be missed in future episodes by both adolescent girls and their moms who are only too happy to accompany their daughters to the theatre, but he's a handsome talent who's graduated to bigger projects."

Marjorie, you're a grown woman. It's time to cancel those subscriptions to Teen Beat, Tiger Beat, and Bop. Men interested in Marjorie, be warned...I suspect this is a woman who likes "manscaping".

Elizabeth Weitzman of the New York Daily News gives us: "It's hard to complain about a pop culture phenomenon built on unabashed innocence. And anyway, we might as well get used to it: Neither the movie nor the passionate tween squeals at a recent preview leave any doubt that "HSM 4" is on its way - or that the inevitable "College Musical" will be far behind."

I disagree, Elizabeth. It's not hard to complain. After all, you just did.

Helen O'Hare of Empire writes: "If you're under 12, you won't be disappointed. If you're over 12, the fact this is as funny and bright as it is insipid won't stop you from avoiding it like the plague."

Now come on, Helen. I know you work for Empire and all, but believe it or not, there are some people over twelve who think about things other than science fiction, zombies, video games, and gangster flicks. Some of them are even straight single males!

Scott Tobias of The Onion A/V Club says, "Efron is the epitome of sexless Disney heartthrobs, but he's an electrifying song-and-dance man, so much so that his castmates (Bleu excepted) look like they have concrete shoes by comparison."

Well done, Scott. You actually said something about the I know this Efron guy really is a good performer. And the rest of the cast...not so much. Good review!

Ella Taylor of LA Weekly writes, "Set against a production design seemingly inspired by the American flag, director Kenny Ortega's choreography is industrial and efficient, if haplessly stranded somewhere between Michael Jackson and the Village People."

Ella, I have a book recommendation for you.

Michael Sragow of the Baltimore Sun phoned in this: "High School Musical 3 wore me out, but I'm not the target audience. My favorite high school musical was "Hamlet 2." "

Look, Michael...this is not an Internet forum, or a little armchair chat with your movie buff friend. You're not allowed to play the "I'm not the target audience" card. You're a professional movie critic. You're supposed to understand all genres and be able to analyze entries on their own merits. And to cover it up with a joke about a non-existent musical from a recent, poorly-received comedy...bad form, indeed. Boo, Michael. Boo.

Kyle Smith of the New York Post observes: "There is also something surgically sterile. The movie sounds as though it was recorded in a padded chamber instead of a bustling school, and it looks like it came from some alternate world, one that basks in the eternal sunshine of the spotless skin."

Oooo! I like it. Fact-stating, and entertaining. Keep up the good work, Kyle.

And finally, we get this from our old pro Peter Travers of Rolling Stone: "If you're gay and/or eight years old, HSM3 is the movie event of the year."

Yeah, that's right, Peter...all gay men love High School Musical. And our new President-elect loves fried chicken. What, do you think you're Seth Macfarlane and this is "Family Guy"? You're a journalist, and a famous one at that. Clean up your act.


  1. "Helen O'Hare of Empire writes: "If you're under 12, you won't be disappointed. If you're over 12, the fact this is as funny and bright as it is insipid won't stop you from avoiding it like the plague."

    All well and good Helen, but at least declare yourself: are you over 12 or under?

  2. Is Scott Tobias of The Onion A/V Club an actual, paid movie critic?

  3. Scott Tobias's entry at the Onion A/V Club website lists him as "Film Editor". This presumably means he has a paid job working for them being an editor of film reviews. Either that, or he's responsible for the comedic timing in "The Onion Movie". Let's hope for his sake it's the former and not the latter.