High School Musical 3: Senior Year

High School Musical 3: Senior Year

Peter Bradshaw


Wednesday October 22 2008

Clive James once said that some cultural artefacts are so bland they "taste of cellophane". High School Musical 3: Senior Year makes cellophane taste like chicken jalfrezi. Yet behind the blandness - perhaps even generating the blandness as a symptom - there is something weird and conflicted going on.

This is the commercial apotheosis of the High School Musical brand. The unthreatening Disney teen drama started life just two years ago as a small-screen product, became the centrepiece for a trillion tweenie-girly sleepovers, and now, at threequel stage, merits a fully-fledged theatrical release which might even threaten Mamma Mia's rule at the box office.

Oh. My. God. Going to see it on a date would feel like being the hapless couple arriving in Stepford for the first time: the sheer squeaky-cleanness of everything is creepy, and when the characters are called upon to dance, they do so with robotic efficiency, and sing in that decaffeinated high vibrato, like 21st-century Hollywood castrati. As ever, Zac Efron plays teen cutester Troy Bolton, who totally rules the school basketball court without his artfully contrived fringe ever becoming disordered. Vanessa Hudgens is Gabriella, the talented young singer and dancer with whom Troy appears to be going steady in a sweet'n'innocent way, though the film has a quasi-Bollywood reluctance to show kissing on the lips.

Once again, they find themselves appearing together in the high school musical and Troy even finds that his future in college sports is open to question: should he instead try out for New York's prestigious Juilliard school for the performing arts? The all-important show is once again underpinned by the school's brother-and-sister combo: Sharpay, a Valley-Girl princess played by Ashley Tisdale, and her choreographer brother Ryan, played by Lucas Grabeel, who here looks like the crazed love-child of Will Arnett and Jonny Lee Miller.

The "high school" genre is traditionally the horniest in Hollywood, but HSM3 is utterly sexless. Or is it? Take Ryan for example. With his white hat, knee-length white trousers, and undoubted talent for choreography, he's supposed to be ... well, erm, different. Hints are dropping like bricks, but nothing is ever said. The shy, mousy, brainy and - get this - bespectacled Kelsi (played by Olesya Rulin) who composes all the showtunes, and winds up getting invited to the prom by bitchy Ryan as a ruse ... well. I'm not sure dating is all that much of a priority for her either.

Then there's Troy. Troy has to figure out some big things about himself. Is he a jock or not? For years, he thought he was a basketball player. Yet now he finds the world of Broadway showtunes may be more his thing after all. And is he gonna be with Gabriella ... or not? It's a choice that makes Troy's be-fringed features go dreamily, enigmatically blank. Well, millions of high-schoolers all over the world are confused as to who they really are. And many grown-ups professionally involved in the glorious business we call show - perhaps even the people who worked on this very HSM franchise - have painful memories of this dilemma, brought to a crisis by their own school play. Troy finally manages to fudge the issue. He accepts a college place at Berkeley, where he can be both a basketball player and a showtunes person. Is that what they call bi-disciplinary? I think Troy is kidding himself.

apotheosis – apoteoza

bitchy – jędzowaty

bland – mdły

blandness – brak smaku, mdły smak

blank – pusty, bez wyrazu

box office – kasa (kina)

centrepiece – chluba

contrive – wymyślać, obmyslać; contrived – sztuczny, nienaturalny

cutester – (potoczne) atrakcyjny chłopak / atrakcyjna dziewczyna

decaffeinated – bezkofeinowy

fringe – grzywka

fudge – kręcić, fałszować; partaczyć

fully-fledged – dojrzały, w pełni rozwinięty

hapless – niefortunny

horny – seksowny; (wulgarne) napalony

jock – atleta

prestigious – prestiżowy, renomowany

prom – bal na koniec roku szkolnego

reluctance – niechęć

ruse – podstęp

sleepover – nocowanie u kogoś (najczęściej u kolegi, koleżanki)

squeaky – piszczący

threequel – trzecia z kolei część filmu  

tweenie – młody nastolatek

underpin – wzmacniać, podpierać

wind up – kończyć (się)

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