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DVD Review: High School Musical 2 Extended Edition DVD (2007)

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High School Musical 2 DVDUm… Where do I start? High School Musical 2 is coming out on DVD this Tuesday in an Extended Edition, which includes a new music scene, sing-along features, a rehearsal cam (where you can watch dance rehearsal footage while watching the movie), karaoke features and music videos. First, though, you have to see the movie, and if you’re not in the Disney demographic, you probably won’t like it.

“Probably won’t like it” – is that true? High School Musical 2 was one of the biggest hits of the year, and that must mean that more than pre-teen kids are watching it. It received pretty good reviews, so that must mean that some adult critics liked it, too.

But honestly, I do not see what the appeal is, though I’ll admit that I am way out of the target demographic. I like musicals, but I like realistic musicals with engaging music with excellent musical sequences. High School Musical 2 does not offer this. I liked one song out of the entire movie, and had to fast forward through several of the other musical sequences as they were just so utterly unbearable. The songs are so chipper (yes, so Disney) and cheesy, but what really kills them is the poor audio matching to the actors – I’m pretty sure they sing the songs, but the audio track is so obviously separate from the actual filmed scenes that it pretty much looks like they’re lip syncing the entire time. Oh, and the dance moves are just dreadful. I felt like I was watching an N’Sync or Backstreet Boys music video from ten years ago, as the dance moves are so goofy and un-trendy you just have to see them to believe them.

When the actors aren’t singing, High School Musical 2 is pretty bearable and somewhat entertaining. The development of Zac Efron’s character is decent enough (the story is about him forced to decide between a bunch of easy choices to get into college and allegiance to his friends and girlfriend), and I also liked the nasty performance by Ashley Tisdale. Having known nothing about the High School Musical franchise before tonight other than Vanessa Hudgens’ nude photos, I was a bit surprised to see that Hudgens has such a small role in the movie (maybe because her acting, singing and character aren’t very inspiring). In reality, the writers’ decision to keep the movie away from a typical teen romance story (though it does have a lot of those elements) and do something different (no, I’m not saying it’s original by any stretch) was a smart one, though.

The only other thing that bugged me about the movie was just how G-rated it was. I should have seen it coming – it’s from the Disney channel after all – but for some reason I had expectations that it was going to be something more. Since it has been so successful, I figured that the movie would branch away from Disney just a little bit, but nope. Why does G-rated stuff bother me? The movie is about 17-year olds, yet Efron and Hudgens only kiss at the very end, there’s almost no cleavage (hair is strategically placed at times to hide Tisdale’s) and the girls don’t wear bikinis. It’s not that I needed these things, but the absence of them are so blatant and forced that the whole movie feels unrealistic as a result. It’s hard to get into characters when everything about them is unbelievable.

High School Musical 2 is probably popular because it is safe and G-rated while never boring, which is perfect for families with younger children or people with certain religious values who don’t believe that men and women should touch each other before marriage. I understand this, and for the right age, I can see how the movie could be quite entertaining.

Still, I am just shocked at how low quality the music and the dance numbers are; they are so bad I couldn’t even watch them. That’s not a good sign for a musical.

By Erik Samdahl
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