Saturday, March 7, 2009

We're All In This Together - HSM3/Senior Year: Movie Night at Casa Trovato

Opening scene: We’re staring into the worried eyes – and sweatied brow – of Troy Bolton. The Wildcats are down by nearly 20 points and the team just can’t get their heads in the game. Cut to locker room scene: Pep talk by Coach Bolton (Troy’s daddy). Pep talk by Troy. Then a Wildcat Call to Arms by Chad Danforth. Back to court: GAYEST. DANCE SCENE. EVER. And then, in a moment of clarity, Troy looks to the stands and from a sea of red-shirted East High Wildcats, Gabriella Montez rises, in her virginal white dress. Their eyes meet. Troy knows what to do. They shoot. They score.

Carlo and I know we’re in for 2 hours of artificially-sweetened, cancer-causing Red No. 2-colored, bubble-gum scented, tummy-turning, diarrhea-inducing schlock. And there’s nothing we can do about it.

And here’s the sad thing: In the summer of 2007, when Disney premiered HSM 2 on TV – the whole family (including Carlo and I) were TOTALLY stoked about it. We actually turned down not one, but TWO invitations to view the movie at other people’s homes, preferring to hunker down in our own living room and watch it together in privacy, so we could enjoy it among our own. Although Carlo had made a bunch of homemade pizzas, our mainstay that night was devouring that whiter-than-white, holier-than-thou, cottoned-candy crap with double-fisted pleasure. The next day, in fact, I bought Maggie & Paolo the soundtrack (Sharpay’s “Fabulous” track is actually quite catchy) – and they weren’t even at the store with me – I just BOUGHT IT. I themed Maggie’s 7th Birthday Party around HSM 1 & 2, including an HSM trivia game, where I was the enthusiastic host. The kids had a blast (as did the adults).

But since then, we’ve tired of HSM. We grew weary after Vanessa Hudgens’ nudies became public. Weary of Zac Efron not coming out (come on, already!). Weary of seeing Ashley Tisdale in every fucking show Disney airs. Weary when HSM 3 came to the theaters in October 2008. And weary enough that today, March 7, 2009, my husband – at my kid’s constant demand – marched into a video store and picked up a few boxes of Twizzlers, Junior Mints, Sour Patch Kids and a copy of HSM3: Senior Year.

If you’ve not yet watched this movie and were thinking about renting it, save your $4, as it was absolutely fucking terrible. If you’ve not yet watched this movie, have disregarded my warning and are still thinking of renting it: stop reading now. I’m going to load the remainder of this blog with spoilers. And here they are:

If you saw HSM 1 or 2, you’ve seen HSM3. If you’ve seen Grease, Saturday Night Fever, Footloose or the “Thriller” video, you’ve already experienced all of the choreography HSM3 had to offer. The Creative Department at Disney was either collectively on vacation while this movie was planned or, they upped their anti-depression meds and simply phoned in ‘ambivalence’ during production. I mean, I didn’t expect a complicated plot. Really, I didn’t. And I didn’t expect any real character growth (again, I really didn’t). But for the love of Bob Fosse, couldn’t someone have come up with some new moves? Troy Bolton’s final solo act is almost a step-for-step re-enactment of Kevin Bacon’s famous solo romp thru the mill. Cut loose, Disney. Your target audience may not know Footloose, but the bastards shelling out for movie tickets or video rental DO.

Disney’s Art Department was TOTALLY on the ball – in the typical, Fantasia/Every-Day-is-Acid-Day-at-Disney kind of way. The second scene takes us to the celebration of the end of the successful Wildcat basketball season – a party at Troy’s place, replete with 3-story-sized Wildcat mascots, a ginormous trampoline, enough Christmas lights to make Clark Griswold look like a rank amateur and a tree house – oh! a tree house that the Swiss Family Robinson could only hope to time-share. [Note: This tree house, by my estimate, had about an 8-1/2 foot high cathedral ceiling and full-electrical capabilities. I might have seen a plasma near its 1st bay window, just to the left of the Corbusier chaise.] It was a raging party – without any alcohol, of course – where all social groups co-mingled in blissful harmony and where – in the magical tree house -- Gabriella and Troy promised themselves to each other – no matter how far apart their colleges would take them.

Seriously, did this ever happen at YOUR high school? It sure as hell never happened at mine, or at least, I wasn’t ever a part of one of these events. I had a friend in grade school – her mom would watch me after school until my mom came home from work – and she had a tree house of sorts. It was made of rotted, warped plywood scraps, loosely held together by rusty nails and was absolutely unsafe. [Note: My mother really should have paid somebody else to watch me (and I use the word ‘watch,’ loosely). This woman had 5 kids of her own to manage and was letting anyone juggle knives if they felt up to it. I almost killed myself on one of their mini-bikes one day. We were completely unsupervised and I can be damn lucky I still have my right leg.] Anyway…someone – somehow – managed to cram one of those little plastic kitchens up into this mobile home on a branch and I remember eating barely ripe crab apples (covered in pesticide – you could actually see the film of poison on them) and making sugar-less Kool-Aid (aka bitter red water) with her in that hovering house of death. No cathedral ceilings for us. And I don’t EVER remember going to a raging house party with party lights and a trampoline and social cliques living together in perfect harmony. I was a band fag. I hung with them. And by hung out, I mean we made out on the bus on the way home from away games or band competitions, then stayed at the home of a same-gender band fag and talked about relationships and Duran Duran, or our relationship with Duran Duran, if we had no real relationship of our own of which to speak.

I’m not going to dissect this flopper of a film scene-by scene, but I’ll give you the less-than-60-second overview: there’s another show, all the regulars are in it , with the added excitement of a scholarship-wielding Julliard recruiter attending the performance; overacting, overacting, overacting; re-do of cafeteria dance scene; re-do of gazebo/garden on the roof scene; overacting; Chad and Troy do gay dance in junkyard; re-do of Gabriella and Troy being too cute scene; re-do of Gabriella being on her own scene; re-do of the isn’t-Kelsey-quirky-and-cute-and-underrated scene; overacting, Sharpay has a nemesis scene (an original scene, actually) overacting, overacting, Chad continues to carry a basketball with him everywhere scene(s); overacting; final show; graduation; marquis… go refill drink and try to forget it ever happened.

I will say that, like Grease, HSM3 was chock full of sexual innuendo. Sharpay’s debut outfit was a rockin’ pink sequined mini skirt with pink leather fuck-me boots. Lots of the musical scenes piled on as much T&A as the Disney Censor Board would permit (including one scene where the girls, fronted by the lead-girl, Ryan Evans, were all dressed as pink-trimmed, pussy-cats…mmm hmmm).

HSM3: Senior Year just didn’t cut it for me. Or us. My daughter did cry at the end (but I’m certain they were forced tears) and my son was moved –just once – to get up and dance (gay dance scene at junkyard, and no, that doesn’t mean anything!), but we found we just didn’t care if they graduated, got scholarships, went to the same colleges, contracted life-threatening sexually transmitted diseases, made a brief but lucrative living making soft-core porn, opened a falafel stand outside of East High…. we’ve lost interest in the gang from East High. Lack of script (I bet this blog has more words in it than the entire script to that movie!), lame-ass characters, and unimaginative choreography all worked together to make the Wildcat’s senior year suck ass. And I think even they knew it.


  1. Though I sincerely appreciate the fact that there's something wholesome out there for our children to watch, I caught two scenes of the first HSM and couldn't believe how sappy and silly it was (even compared to my ridiculous favorite, Grease II). In any case, I can't get my head around the fact that this one is even worse. Scary.

  2. really well written traz. keep these coming. there is so much out there that is both stimulating for children and parent friendly(triplets of belleville, black stallion, fly away home, spirited away, etc.), the appeal of hsm and it's heinous offspring is baffling to me. leave it to disney to pander to young'uns who are still quasi modo. those pink pussycat outfits sound positively john waters. what mixed messages this sends. i have to wash my brain now. oh, yeah, i think you are not just a good writer, but a great one. i hate you. i love you.