Sharpay Evans will forever be a mood.
Ready to feel old? Today marks the 10-year anniversary of the release of High School Musical 3: Senior Year (2008), the crown jewel in Disney’s High School Musical trilogy (2006 – 2008). That’s right, this landmark anniversary falls on a Wednesday. That’s right, I get to talk about one of the greatest musical movies of our generation for this week’s Wayback Wednesday. I’m more excited than Ryan at a buy-one-get-one-free fedora sale.
This movie is fucking fantastic. Where do I even begin? I’m not even going to bother with a summary because there’s no way you’re reading this review and asking yourself, “wait, what is High School Musical?” There just isn’t. If you were alive in the 2000s, and had eyeballs, then you’re familiar with the plot, characters, and music (the music!) of this Disney legend.
So, unpopular opinion, but the third movie is actually my personal favourite in the High School Musical trilogy. I know, I know. The first one started it all, and the sequel gave us the tear-jerking anthem, “Gotta Go My Own Way,” but the third just rises above the previous two. A big factor is the production value. This one actually came out in theatres so Disney gave them a much bigger budget and believe me, it shows. The set pieces are more extravagant, the costumes are flashier, and the musical numbers are nothing short of show-stopping. I’m guessing a solid 40 per cent of their $11 million budget went solely to the “I Want It All” number. Money well spent in my opinion.
Shinier rhinestones and grander stages aren’t the only things that got expanded upon in this installment. The emotions and themes that are handled in this movie are a lot stronger and more mature than the ones in the original, which pretty much summed up to, “be yourself.” Which is a fantastic message, but it’s one-note. In the third movie, the characters deal with growing into adulthood, going in different directions from your friends, and shaping your future into the one you want it to be. Heavy stuff for a movie that also features Zac Efron doing this:
The greater budget and the more impactful themes definitely helped this movie FEEL like a real movie, but credit should largely go the cast. Taylor and Chad finally get more screen time to become fully realized characters, Ryan and Sharpay are at their bitchiest and most fabulous, and Troy and Gabriella get numerous scenes that deal with the emotional weight of their quickly-changing relationship. After two movies and two years, the young cast has learned what makes each of their characters so appealing, and run with it. Taylor’s determination, Sharpay’s diva attitude, and Troy’s lovable naiveté, help us find relatable qualities in these characters that make us care about where they end up. Troy and Gabriella’s relationship really is something in this movie. It feels incredibly real and vulnerable, yet always manages to play out like something out of a fairytale. During “Can I Have This Dance?” when they’re on that rooftop and then there’s a flash rainstorm in UTAH? Forget about it.
Side note, I need a reunion movie where we catch up with all the characters 10 years later. And I’m not accepting that bullshit reunion special they did in 2016 that was like nine minutes long, and Zac Efron didn’t even attend because he was promoting Dirty Grandpa (2016). Choices, Zac. Choices. Just imagine catching up with Sharpay and Ryan after they took over Broadway, Taylor became President of the United States (please), Chad became East High’s new basketball coach, and Gabriella became like, a nun or something, I don’t know. Troy would still probably be figuring out what he want’s for his future. He never was able to get his head in the game. Wink.
Ugh, three characters who are not allowed at the reunion are the Troy, Chad, and Sharpay “mini-mes” the movie introduced, Jimmie “Rocket Man” Zara, Donnie Dion, and Tiara Gold. The first two were comedic relief that failed on every account to do their job, and Tiara tried to out-bitch Sharpay Evans. SHARPAY EVANS. It can’t be done. It was really cute of her to try though, and at least we got the reprise of “A Night To Remember” that we all prefer to the original, right? God, I feel like I haven’t talked enough about Sharpay who is by far, the best part of this movie. She gets one of the best songs of the entire series, “I Want It All,” she gets to be her trademark diva-self by sabotaging Gabriella to get a starring role and romantic duet alongside Troy, (which turns into a great comedic moment for her) puts tired-ass Tiara in her place, and gets to evolve into a good person by allowing Ryan to take her place at Julliard! I know he probably got in on his own, but there’s no way Julliard rejected Sharpay Evans. I will now submit photographic evidence:
Which brings us to the tearful conclusion of the film, which is is appropriately their graduation ceremony. Has their ever been a more perfect, art-imitates-life example of characters saying goodbye to each other as we simultaneously say goodbye to a franchise that defined our adolescence? No, there isn’t. The final song, “High School Musical,” is a BOP, and an emotional one at that. There are so many callbacks to the the other movies! Ryan and Sharpay doing a jazz square, the roller-coaster dance move from,”What Time Is It?…” It was weird to be both crying and dancing at the same time. Now, don’t sit there and try to tell me that you didn’t get misty-eyed as the six main characters stood on stage in front of the franchise logo as an enormous curtain closed and signified the end of an era. I just wouldn’t believe you. That’s like trying to tell me that, “When There Was Me and You,” is your favourite song in the trilogy. I just wouldn’t believe you. Happy 10 years of High School Musical 3: Senior Year!
What’s your favourite movie in the High School Musical trilogy? What’s your favourite song?
Let me know in the comments or on social media!