Walt Disney Pictures
Television Premiere: August 17, 2007
Director: Kenny Ortega
Starring: Zac Efron, Vanessa Anne Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Corbin Bleu, Lucas Grabeel, Monique Coleman
Following the events of the original High School Musical, this original Disney Channel movie begins at the culmination of a school year that, as Ashley Tisdale’s Sharpay Evans states in this film, “It was a very trying year, ladies. My drama department was invaded by outsiders. Singers coming from the chemistry lab and locker room. Shocking, really.” This time around, the plot has the whole gang spend their summer vacation working at a local country club, owned by Ryan (Lucas Grabeel) and Sharpay’s parents. While Sharpay used her clout to get Troy (Zac Efron) a job, since she wanted to get him away from his girlfriend Gabriella (Vanessa Hudgens), as well as his Wildcat teammates, Troy insisted that his friends get summer jobs there as well, resulting in the whole gang from the first movie being on-hand for a new adventure.
The sub-plot has Sharpay not only have the intention to steal Troy from Gabriella, but to also get him to perform a duet with her for the club’s annual “Midsummer Night’s Talent Show”. Because employees are allowed to enter, Sharpay plans to get Troy to perform with her to keep the other East High students from causing a repeat of what took place in the school year, with her being overlooked in favor of her classmates.
Among the musical numbers taking place, the majority of which detailing Gabriella and Troy’s relationship, from “You Are The Music In Me,” which is a tribute to what they’ve been for each other, to Gabriella’s break-up song she sings to Troy, “Gotta Go My Own Way,” there are some truly standout performances from Efron and Hudgens.
One of the most memorable scenes in the entire movie is the song-and-dance routine that takes place during the employee baseball game where Chad (Corbin Bleu) and Ryan face-off, both in sport and in song as they perform “I Don’t Dance.” This is Bleu’s first actual song in the High School Musical franchise as a lead performer (as he has only performed in ensemble efforts prior to this) and it also marks the first performance that Ryan has without his sister Sharpay. The scene itself is extremely well-choreographed, with the pitches, hits, and missed swings, along with the outfield running and the running of the bases all being integrated with elements of hip-hop, swing, and ballet dancing.
High School Musical 2 takes the characters that were introduced in the first and really broadens them, especially with Ryan and Chad particularly having more significant roles this time around, making each of them more better-developed characters as a result of it. For a direct-to-cable sequel to be this good, it’s really no wonder why Disney is planning on the next installment to be released on the big screen.
– Christopher Griffin