October 25, 2008


"High School Musical 3": Stop rolling your eyes -- the latest fluffy movie in Disney's powerhouse franchise is a total kick. (Stephanie Zacharek, 10/24/08, Salon)

[T]his is a movie that offers simple, buouyant pleasures. The director is Kenny Ortega, a longtime choreographer ("Dirty Dancing" is among his credits) and the director of the unjustly maligned 1992 Disney musical "Newsies," an enjoyable little picture that never had a chance. (The fact that a corporate entity like Disney would even make a pro-labor musical is interesting by itself.) The songs in "HSM 3" may not be particularly memorable, but I wouldn't say they're any worse than the faux-rock toodling of "Rent." And in staging the splashy, effervescent musical numbers, Ortega borrows, joyfully, from a wealth of references, taking bits and pieces from Busby Berkeley and from Bob Fosse, from "West Side Story" and from "Saturday Night Fever."

In fact, the overall vibe of "HSM 3" isn't so far off from the "Let's put on a show!" boisterousness of the old Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland musicals. Since when shouldn't it be fun to spend 90 minutes or so watching good-looking young people, singing and dancing relatively well? I had fun at "High School Musical 3" partly because I got such a kick out of the audience, which consisted largely of preteen girls. Most of my friends who are parents lament that their kids are growing up too fast, that they're no longer allowed to have a childhood, and in general, I can see that it's true: There's no shortage of 11-year-old girls out there who've already donned the uniform of low-rise jeans and belly-baring tops. But in one scene, when Efron peeled off his shirt to reveal a perfect V-shaped torso (we get only the back view -- no nipples!), a number of little girls scattered through the audience giggled with embarrassment. In their innocence -- there was nothing knowing or salacious about their laughter -- they were just so, well, cute. No matter how allegedly sophisticated our preteeners may be, if they can still giggle at the sight of a boy's naked back, perhaps all is not lost.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at October 25, 2008 7:16 AM
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