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High School Musical 3: one more for the road

In this image released by Disney Enterprises, from left, Vanessa Hudgens, Zac Efron, Ashley Tisdale and Jason Williams are shown in a scene from, "High School Musical 3." (AP Photo/Disney Enterprises, Inc. Fred Hayes) ** NO SALES **
AP | Disney Enterprises, Inc.

Some movies are simply considered review proof. If movie critics were $5 umbrellas, High School Musical 3: Senior Year would be Hurricane Katrina.There will simply be no stopping Troy, Gabriella, Sharpay, Ryan and the rest of the Disney Channel crew moving to the big screen, and making this Kenny Ortega-directed, Peter Barsocchini-scripted confection into one of the biggest attractions of the movie year. So why get in its way?Fortunately, we dont have to: The third in what has become a true cultural phenomenon not just monetarily, but in regards to how an entire generation will view the presumed-dead musical genre HSM3 is eminently watchable, occasionally very funny, and sweet enough to give you diabetes. Where it goes very right is in introducing new characters (and performers) who will enable Ortega and company to carry on the franchise, at least through HSM4 for which contracts already have been signed.Ortega is a bit of an imp: The first shot we see is Troy ( Zac Efron) panting into the camera, clad in what looks like his underwear. But no: Its the big game, the score is tied and the Wildcats of East High the only known basketball power that can do a song, a dance and a fast break all at the same time will prevail. The bigger question: With Gabriella ( Vanessa Hudgens) going to Stanford, Troy going to the University of Albuquerque and Ryan (Lucas Grabeel) and sister Sharpay ( Ashley Tisdale) in line for Juilliard scholarships how are we going to get the musical in Musical”?There are more than 20 songs in HSM3, and while a lot are pabulum, theres … well, theres a lot of it. The songs concern the ongoing romance between Troy and Gabriella, and the friendship of Troy and Chad (Corbin Bleu), whose duet, The Boys Are Back, owes a big debt to Thriller, just as the ghost of Peter Allen haunts Ryans dance routine (Grabeel is the best thing in the film).While Efron has really outgrown this sort of thing, and Hudgens strong suit is smiling sweetly, its the newcomers who shine: Playing the comedy twosome of Jimmie Rocket Man Zara and his sidekick, Donny Dion, are Matt Prokop and Justin Martin, both of whom seem destined for greatness. So does Jemma McKenzie-Brown, who plays the Eve Harrington role to Tisdales Sharpay, injecting a little All About Eve into a movie that prefers to steal its best stuff from the vaults of vintage MGM.

Christy LemireThe Associated PressIf ever there was a critic-proof movie, this is it. After two cable flicks that literally amounted to a cultural phenomenon, High School Musical 3: Senior Year has a huge built-in fan base that will not only turn out the first weekend but revisit the movie regularly and snap up the DVD when it finally comes out in that medium.That said, one must regretfully report that the third installment is the weakest of the bunch. Partially thats because of the extreme thinness of the plot that Peter Barsocchini has confected this time around, even by the standards of the first two pictures, which were hardly Shakespearean. Simply put, it doesnt even match the depth of the first two pictures, which were shallow fluff to begin with. And the ending, in which all the dilemmas and difficulties are resolved like magic without anybody breaking a sweat, is a cop-out even by HSM standards.But whatever the flaws, its lively and colorful enough to satisfy the target audience as a fitting close to the ultra-popular series.


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