"High School Musical" is today's "Grease" for the tween set and a guilty pleasure for adults who insist they're only watching it because their kids are. This Disney Channel original film, which became a surprise ratings and Billboard chart-topping phenomenon, comes to DVD with all the extras a kid could want to enhance the already infectiously fun and funny musical experience.
School basketball star Troy Bolton (Zac Efron) and brainy transfer student Gabriella Montez (Vanessa Anne Hudgens) discover they just can't fight the music even though everyone in school has already pegged them as a jock and a nerd. When they try out for the high school musical together, they freak out the school's cliquish students, who can't comprehend rocking the boat. But eventually, through song and dance, everyone realizes that sometimes you have to stick out to fit into your own skin.
Frankly, the big surprise would have been if this film hadn't done well. It breathes new life into the musical with its peppy, melodic songs and energetic dance sequences, and the story positively addresses a kid's preoccupation with social standing. Adorable leads Efron and Hudgens each have a puckish way about them, and the supporting cast isn't afraid to play big when the scene calls for it.
After wringing every experience they can after countless repeated viewings, kids will enjoy the "Making Of" featurette that shows all the work that went into their favorite scenes. Straight from the actors' mouths, you learn about how Hudges had never heard herself sing until this film, the intricacies and nightmare of choreographing the huge "Stick to the Status Quo" number in the cafeteria and the positive atmosphere that director/choreographer Kenny Ortega fostered on the set.
"Learning the Moves" has the potential to keep the viewers occupied trying to work out the steps, but may end up frustrating kids who don't pick up choreography quickly. It's somewhat disappointing that "Bop to the Top" is the number chosen instead of the synchronized crowd-pleasing finale "We're All in This Together." In a studio, actors Ashley Tisdale and Lucas Grabeel rehearse their dance the first time through. Then they repeat one short portion a couple times before inviting the audience to participate. At this point, you can pick one of the following angles: A) a close-up of their feet during the rehearsal, B) a wide shot of the rehearsal, C) the actual scene from the film, or D) all three split on the same screen.
The "We're All in This Together" music video uses clips from the film, while the never-before-seen video for "I Can't Take My Eyes Off of You" does the same, but edits it together with a faked recording studio session with actors Efron, Hudges, Tisdale and Grabeel hamming it up and generally having a good time.
The "High School Musical" DVD is a must-have for any family collection, not only because of its overwhelming popularity, but also because you can do a whole lot worse than a film with an upbeat attitude and message.
STUDIO: Walt Disney Home Entertainment
RELEASE DATE: May 23
RATING: TV G
PRICE: $26.99 each
TIME: 98 min.
DVD EXTRAS: Sing along version; "Learning the Moves" featurette led by director/choreographer Kenny Ortega; "Bringing It All Together: The Making of High School Musical"; Never-before-seen music video: "I Can't Take My Eyes Off of You"; "We're All in This Together" music video
INTERNET SITE: For more info go to HighSchoolMusicalDVD.com
'High School Musical: Encore Edition'
DVD invites repeat viewing and youthful participation
Zac Efron and Vanessa Anne Hudgens in 'High School Musical'