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High School Musical 2: Extended Edition

Genre: , ,

Cast: Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Lucas Grabeel, Corbin Bleu

Director: Kenny Ortega

Rated: G

Review By:
Rocco Passafuime

SUNY Purchase '05

"I don't compromise my values and I don't compromise my work. I won't give in." -Michael Moore

Release Date: December 11th, 2007
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Overall Grade: B

High School Musical 2: Extended Edition

Review By: Rocco Passafuime

High School Musical 2 (Extended Edition)

One of the biggest surprise hit movies of 2006 was not one shown theatrically, but shown directly on the Disney Channel. High School Musical was the most unexpected of hits, drawing the highest audience in the channel's history, and shortly snowballed into an even more unexpected phenomenon with top 40 hit singles, merchandising, and even a concert tour and Disney On Ice show.

It became almost too inevitable that a sequel was to be made. And a year later, indeed it was, becoming an even bigger hit and setting a cable ratings record for a young audience when it first premiered August of 2007. Now High School Musical 2 is available to own on this Extended Edition DVD.

The school year has ended and summer begins for the East High Wildcats. The school's drama queen (both figuratively and literally) Sharpay Evans (Ashley Tisdale) needs a partner to defend her title as Razzle Dazzle champion of a talent show at Lava Springs Country Club, where she spends her summers with her family, including her brother and partner-in-crime Ryan (Lucas Grabeel).

Sharpay sets her sights on basketball jock Troy Bolton (Zac Efron), who is currently struggling with how to make money for college and spending time with his newly-minted girlfriend Gabriella Montez (Vanessa Hudgens). However, her plan to score Troy as summer job at the country club stumbles a bit when he promises to give Gabriella, best friend Chad Danforth (Corbin Bleu), Chad's girlfriend Taylor McKessie (Monique Coleman), as well as many of their fellow classmates, jobs as well.

Upon arrival, Troy and his friends decide to enter and perform in the talent show together. Not one to accept anything less than exactly she wants, Sharpay immediately conspires with grouchy manager Mr. Fulton (Mark L. Taylor) to make Troy's friends miserable and to keep him and Gabriella apart as much as possible. As a way to lure Troy into the show, Sharpay plans to use her family's wealth and influence to land him a basketball college scholarship, playing for the prestigious team, the Red Hawks.

Soon enough, Troy becomes increasingly distracted by what she plans to offer him and it soon causes a rift between not only him and his friends, but him and Gabriella as well. On top of that, Ryan, who's seemingly become traded up by Sharpay for Troy, decides to switch sides and enter the talent competition with the Wildcats. Now it's up to Troy to make a choice and decide what really matters more to him in the long-run, his friends or a chance to be financially secure for college.

As with the original, High School Musical 2 finds itself often with just as much to hate as well as to love. Kenny Ortega returns as director and continues to show effortless skill in not only creating a fun and bright atmosphere and infectious

choreography, but a real gift for working with young actors. This fact especially becomes not too surprising if you've ever seen his 1980's music video for Latino boy band Menudo's English hit "Hold Me".

While the returning cast still manages to be generally likable and energetic, they still by and large still vary in degrees of overall skill. Bleu, Coleman, and especially Hudgens still have the most real skill as actors. Tisdale is still, by and large, the least-skilled with her continual penchant for the kind of embarrassingly over-the-top and cartoonish acting that's become all too familiar on any Disney Channel sitcom.

Efron, after showing some surprising skill in the remake of Hairspray, is a bit more lively on screen this time around and his continually perfect on-screen chemistry with Hudgens really makes you want to root for Troy and Gabriella in their plight. However, his acting skill occasionally lapses rather embarrassingly with dramatic moments comprised of deer-in-the-headlights expressions and a fairly stiff and melodramatic performance of his solo number "Bet On It".

However, as with its predecessor, the generally good directing, choreography, and cast often can't mask what continues to become this franchise's most glaring and obvious flaw, its script and music. While returning screenwriter Peter Barsocchini deserves some credit for a good change of pace and a greater excuse to be playful with an exotic and idyllic summer locale, the script is still atrociously juvenile with embarrassingly one-dimensional adult characters. It's also still riddled with lapses in logic that go beyond the reasonable suspension of disbelief (hiring an entire class to work in a country club?).

The music itself, which, in its predecessor, had been generic, yet managed to not only be annoyingly catchy, but rather campy odes to past musicals, has hardly gotten better. While some of the songs this time around, particularly "Work This Out", "Gotta Go My Own Way", and "Bet On It", have managed to become occasionally inspired (music-wise), they are by and large still annoyingly catchy, lightweight, and generic, like the soundtrack's hit singles "What Time Is It?" and "You Are The Music In Me".

The DVD's picture quality is presented in the 1:33:1 full-frame aspect ratio of the original TV broadcast. This Extended Edition DVD also comes packed with plenty of special features.

First are bloopers, which are fairly amusing. The second is a Music & More section comprised of the following.

The first is a deleted musical number scene, where Sharpay and her band performs for Troy the song "Humuhumunukunukuapua'a", which has also been restored into the main film itself. The scene, while shockingly over-the-top and more than a bit odd, adds little to the film, except for being revelatory as possibly a rather campy ode to 1960's "beach blanket" teen films.

Also included in the Music & More section are four music videos. The first is a music video version of the soundtrack's

minor pop hit "You Are The Music In Me", which is basically the scene comprised with other occasional clips from the film.

The other three are covers of songs performed by foreign Disney teen pop artists. The first is a Mexican version of "You Are The Music In Me" performed by Paulina Holguin & Roger, which is rather embarrassingly corny. The second and third are English and French versions of a cover of "Gotta Go My Own Way", performed by Canadian Nikki Yanofsky, which is rather low-budget recording studio footage.

The final feature in Music & More is a "Sing-Along With The Movie" feature. It allows you to see each of the musical number scenes in the film individually, with optional Karaoke lyrics, which is fun for fans of the film.

The final section is "Backstage Disney". The first feature in this section is "Rehearsal Cam", which features an introduction by director/choreographer Kenny Ortega and takes you behind-the-scenes into the rehearsals for each musical number.

This special feature is particularly intriguing for it gives you a glimpse into how much fun Ortega and the cast have working together. You also have the option to "Bounce To The Movie", which allows you to compare the number's rehearsal footage to the final scene. Rounding out Backstage Disney is a sneak peek for for an upcoming Disney cartoon called Phineas And Ferb with an interview by Ashley Tisdale, which is nothing more than an extended commercial for the series.

All in all, while High School Musical 2 and its predecessor deserve some credit for being fun and earnest with its intent, the songs are still too lightweight and the script still by and large juvenile and annoyingly amateurish overall for anyone outside of children and fans to take seriously. While it ends up being even more generic as a musical than its predecessor, it makes a fairly decent sequel to the original, which will surely please fans of the original.

Movie Grade: C

DVD Features Grade: B+

Overall Grade: B

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