Now in their final months at East High, sweethearts Troy (Efron) and Gabriella (Hudgens) face the awful prospect of going to college a thousand miles apart. But as they ponder their future, theres a musical to stage!
This threequel opens with a close-up on a sweaty grimace. It’s an incongruous image, given that the facial expressions generally associated with the High School Musical films are broad grins punctuated by romantic sighs. And for a moment it seems to signal a more adventuresome, more risqué High School Musical. It is, after all, their Senior Year.
But, of course, it doesn’t. This is a film so clean it squeaks, as shiny as its leads’ teeth and about as morally complex. Troy (Zac Efron) is torn between going to college on a basketball scholarship and trying out for Juilliard ’cause, well, he's gotta dance! This dilemma is complicated by the prospect of separation from true love Gabriella (Vanessa Hudgens), a supposedly Stanford-bound brain who never opens her mouth unless it will better allow her to simper.
That’s essentially the plot, once you’ve thrown in a high-school musical (the first in the franchise), along with some light stirring from drama queen Sharpay (Ashley Tisdale). But the story’s not the point — there are 14 musical numbers to be squeezed in, people.
The dancing is stunning, and while the songs aren’t as catchy as those of the first film, they’re a big step up from the second. Busby Berkeley and Bob Fosse are the references for two set-pieces, while there’s a scene in a junkyard full of lost extras from Mad Max or, more likely, BMX Bandits.
But while Efron’s still got fine comic timing, the same cannot be said of his cast-mates, many of whom lose all rhythm when faced with a joke rather than a two-step. It’s this earnestness that will forever separate this franchise from, say, Grease. Still, the kiddies will adore it.
If youre under 12, you wont be disappointed. If youre over 12, the fact this is as funny and bright as it is insipid wont stop you from avoiding it like the plague.