Thursday, September 07, 2006

High School Musical

I've got three boys, ages six, four, and two.

The two older ones know half of the songs from High School Musical in just 2 viewings.

What is it about this show that makes it so appealing?

It is a fairly formulaic movie, especially since it comes from Disney. The two young, attractive leads fight adversity that keeps them apart and conspires from them auditioning for the title musical.

Troy Bolton is the head of the basketball team, trying to lead them to victory at state and make his coach dad proud.

Gabriella is the new girl in school, a brilliant student who is quickly recruited for the academic team.

After the two of them sing a duet accidentally at a New Years' party, they find that 1. they can sing, and 2. they are attracted to each other.

If you go to watch this movie, try to avoid giving up at this point - because this is the hoakiest moment of the whole film, and pretty painful to watch. I'm not going to give the whole film in synopsis - just wanted to point out this pitfall.

So what is High School Musical's appeal? I don't know why a 4 and 6 year old are enthralled with it. The songs are catchy, but not super. The plot, as mentioned, is cliche. The actors do a fine job, but we aren't talking DeNiro and Streep characterization.

And no, it isn't due to the amazing costumes...

Whatever the appeal to the younger set, there are several things here that I can appreciate. The characters are overall nice to each other. They may make fun of certain things people do, but no one is belittled with snark, as is the custom in our culture anymore. Even the "bad guys" aren't nasty with put downs. They think they're the best and look down on Troy and Gabriella, true, but they could be so much worse.

The girls aren't dressed skanky. The outfits look attractive on the ladies, but we aren't innundated with flesh. This movie targets 9-14 year olds, so this is a VERY welcome development.

The morale of the story it to accept differences and get beyond the boundaries of cliques. The message comes across well without preaching or being overt.

What does this have to do with a writing blog? (It could technically fall under the "goofy" I suppose). It is possible to craft a pleasing, thoughtful story that is popular without resorting to nastiness, blatant sexuality, or violence. Oh, and it has a catchy soundtrack.

High School Musical won't be mistaken for a literary masterpiece. But it is a fun movie that whole families can enjoy. Hopefully more entertainment can be like this. If there was only a way to have a soundtrack for a novel, then THAT would be something!

(Aside - it wasn't like the high school musical I was in. We couldn't dance like this. I was the yokel who learned to sing by belting out Petra in my car, while I was paired with an All Northwest alto singer for a duet. GULP. We pulled it off though.)

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