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October 2nd, 2007


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09:58 am
Noah and I ransacked his DVR while waiting for Saturday Night Live over the weekend and found he'd recorded Disney's sudden smash hit, High School Musical. Knowing that Disney has indeed found itself a cash cow and are milking all the golden lactate they can from it while the goings-on of its cast (especially the racier goings-on) have found much exposure in the media recently, we decided to give it a look-see to find out what the fuss was all about.

We couldn't even get past the first musical number.

It wasn't that the song was terrible -- it was, mind you -- but the entire thing was so completely contrived that it was quite embarassing to watch. For those who have not heard of this prepubescent phenomenon, Disney's "Disney's High School Musical" is the Disney made-for-TV musical by Disney about a high school musical. You're welcome.

Okay, it features more than that. It features a jock boy and a bookish nerd girl who discover they sing pretty darn well so they audition for their high school musical, running afoul of the two prima donnas who always play the leads, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Will amazing pop singing and slick dance moves beat out the old established guard and -- more importantly -- will the jock boy and bookish nerd girl fall in love, or at least engage in some furtive makeouts during the cast party?

I'm not laying odds on this one. But hey, it's for the kids, the younguns, the hormonal ones who really do believe that furtive making out at cast parties = TLA (IDST). It doesn't mean, however, that the thing has to absolutely stun grown-ups with its illogic, shoddy exposition and crummy plot.

So here we go, firing up the DVR. The show opened with a title card that read CONTRIVANCE #1. No, wait, I'm pretty sure that was a Warhol film. The show opened on a shot of some kind of winter lodge with the title NEW YEARS [sic] EVE. We pan past a party of teenagers who sure look like they're having fun dancing around to no music as that'll be added in post. Then it's time to Introduce The Characters and their Single Specific Character Traits. The dialogue here is almost lifted verbatim:

(INT. LIVING ROOM - NIGHT)

BOOKISH GIRL'S MOM: Bookish Girl! Put down that book! There's a New Year's Party tonight!

BOOKISH GIRL, WHO DOESN'T LOOK ANYTHING AT ALL LIKE A BOOKISH GIRL: Aw, Mom, it's just getting to the best part!

BOOKISH GIRL'S MOM: I don't care, you can read it later. Now go on down to that New Year's party!

(BOOKISH GIRL leaves. CUT TO:)

(INT. GYMNASIUM - NIGHT)

JOCK'S MOM: Jock Boy! Put down that basketball! There's a New Year's Party tonight!

JOCK BOY: Aw, Mom, I gotta practice! I gotta beat that rival team in the game!

JOCK'S MOM: I don't care, you can practice later. Now go on down to that New Year's party!

(JOCK BOY leaves. CUT TO:)

(INT. PARTY - NIGHT)

ANNOYING ANNOUNCER: Okay, who's next to get up and sing karaoke? Since this is the Contrivance Ski Resort, we're just going to sweep these spotlights around the crowd and hit two random kids.

(TWO SPOTLIGHTS sweep through the crowd and eventually light up JOCK BOY and BOOKISH GIRL, who are currently being LONERS in the crowd. BOOKISH GIRL has even brought along her BOOK.)

ANNOYING ANNOUNCER: Looks like we've got our next two contestants! Come on up and sing this song arbitrarily picked for you!

(The music starts and the JOCK BOY begins to sing, then BOOKISH GIRL joins in. It's a duet, a sappy love duet using such lyrics "the first time I met you" and "I knew it would last forever" and other such tripe. Get it? Because it's the FIRST TIME THEY MET and it's TOTALLY GONNA LAST FOREVER? Sweet Christ, "Summer Lovin" this ain't. But boy can they sing cold, and in perfect harmony with each other, and they didn't even have to stick their fingers in their ears or nothing to get the pitch. WOW!!)

NOAH: So this is what the kids are into these days?

SPATCH: Looks like it.

NOAH: I can't watch this.

SPATCH: Neither can I. Guess it's just not for us.

NOAH: Nope.

SPATCH: Let's watching something more in tune with our demographic.

(NOAH reaches for the remote and brings up the Family Guy Star Wars special, with several episodes of Robot Chicken afterwards. There's some irony in there, I'm sure.)

(53 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:joenotcharles
Date:October 2nd, 2007 02:42 pm (UTC)
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I always thought High School Musical was an entry in the Scary Movie / Epic Movie / etc. series. Just because of the name, I guess.
[User Picture]
From:fancycwabs
Date:October 2nd, 2007 02:44 pm (UTC)
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You're just pissed that you went to Disneyland before the High School Musical: Gabriella and Sharpay's Wild Ride opened.
[User Picture]
From:fancycwabs
Date:October 2nd, 2007 02:47 pm (UTC)
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(I had to look up Gabriella and Sharpay on Wikipedia, even though the little cwab tells me she's auditioning to play *burst of static* in her high school's production and if I were a good father I'd pay attention to details like that.)
[User Picture]
From:betweenstations
Date:October 2nd, 2007 02:52 pm (UTC)
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Old-time Disney live action was horribly contrived, too.

Explain ANY Disney Haley Mills flick otherwise. G'wan.
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:October 2nd, 2007 03:16 pm (UTC)
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Oh, so you don't REALLY believe that two identical twins separated by divorce could JUST BY CHANCE meet at the same summer camp and then scheme to get their parents back together?

Come now! That sort of thing happens all the time. Witness The Parent Trap 2, The Parent Trap 3, and The Parent Trap With Lindsay Lohan Oh Dear God Girl If You Only Knew What You Were Getting Yourself Into.
[User Picture]
From:plumtreeblossom
Date:October 2nd, 2007 02:57 pm (UTC)
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I totally enjoyed that review. I now wish to witness the atrocity myself.
[User Picture]
From:wellstar
Date:October 2nd, 2007 03:39 pm (UTC)
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It is TRULY TERRIBLE. Embarassing though it may be to admit, I totally enjoy cheesy, contrived, stereotype-ridden, Disney-style made-for-TV movies. (Not as, you know, art or anything, but Kwalitee Cheez-E Movies...well, they do show up on my Netflix queue every now and again.) I actually TiVoed this because I wanted to see what all the fuss was. Was it as endearing and amusing as the tween populace's loyalty would indicate? Were there redeeming qualities befitting the sudden explosion of productions of it across the country? Did the cheesiness speak toward a higher goal of sweetness and How The World Should Be If We All Looked And Acted Like the Perfect Disney Stereotype? Was it subversively clever and witty enough to justify its own existence? Or even ironically hysterical worthy of mockery and drinking games?

The answer...is NO. IT SUCKED. I sat through it all and it NEVER got better. Disney is a machine, it is good at what it does, but this is ridiculous. AND NOW THERE IS A SEQUEL.

I knew it was going to be bad, but it was SO MUCH WORSE that I ever thought it could be. Don't watch it. Please don't watch it.
[User Picture]
From:skatiemom
Date:October 2nd, 2007 04:08 pm (UTC)
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I watched the end of HSM and the very beginning of HSM2. So very bad. My god, I couldn't believe the badness. And they're talking about making a THIRD?

What the heck is wrong with kids these days? /crotchety old person
[User Picture]
From:allicat42
Date:October 2nd, 2007 04:52 pm (UTC)
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"What the heck is wrong with kids these days?"

you want a LIST???! ;P
[User Picture]
From:lixie
Date:October 2nd, 2007 04:09 pm (UTC)
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I'll stand alone. I love High School Musical. Enjoy High School Musical 2. For its beauty and its terror. Whenever I feel sad, I console myself with youtube videos of "Bet On It" and R. Kelly's "Trapped In the Closet".

I also like Instant Star.
[User Picture]
From:wonderland09
Date:October 8th, 2007 03:30 am (UTC)
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the songs are catchy - you can't deny that
From:argentla
Date:October 2nd, 2007 04:14 pm (UTC)
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You know what I'd like to see? I'd like to see derspatchel open up his own nightclub with different weekly theme nights (and sure, Contrivance Night could be one of them). I think this could become a profitable pop culture phenomenon. It'd beat the hell out of Planet Hollywood.
[User Picture]
From:slit
Date:October 2nd, 2007 05:11 pm (UTC)
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Yes please.
[User Picture]
From:jimmystagger
Date:October 2nd, 2007 04:25 pm (UTC)
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Is this the thing that girl who sent naked pictures of herself to that guy are all in?

Yes, that shows you how much I know.

Whatever happen to "Duck Tales" I ask you.
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:October 2nd, 2007 05:06 pm (UTC)
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Is this the thing that girl who sent naked pictures of herself to that guy are all in?

Yeah, there was that. And the best part was Disney's spin pretty much amounted to "Well, she didn't do those while she was working on High School Musical, so you can't blame us for nothin!"

Duck Tales was one of the best cartoon shows in the history of cartoons and I'll lick anyone who says otherwise!
[User Picture]
From:campion7
Date:October 2nd, 2007 07:56 pm (UTC)
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And didn't JOCK BOY go on to play HANDSOME SINGER BOY to Nikki Blonsky's OBLIVIOUSLY CONFIDENT MISFIT in Hairspray?
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:October 2nd, 2007 08:02 pm (UTC)
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See, that's the thing. Zac Efron showed he had talent in HAIRSPRAY. I enjoyed his performance quite muchly, especially since he didn't take it seriously (he wasn't supposed to!) and the Without Love number was absolutely hilarious.

And the film/musical/first film are all very well done.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:October 2nd, 2007 10:37 pm (UTC)
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Well, it was morbid curiosity that made me record it in the first place and ... wow.

I can handle a little contrivance. Plenty of great musicals depend on it. And I could even forgive this for ham handedness if ... the music hadn't also been so awful. Or, at least, the one song I heard.

Look, I basically hate all modern pop ballads/love songs. Just not a style that does much for me, which is why it was hard for Amanda and me to pick a first dance song for our wedding. We wound up going with noted Gen-X hipster Mel Torme singing "The Nearness of You" (in our defense, we got the idea of using the song from a Nora Jones cover), because, dammit, the older songs just know how to pack in some freaking emotion into a love song. "I Will" is one of the simplest, shortest tracks on The White Album, and it's one of the sweetest love songs I've ever heard.

And anyway, what kind of musical starts with the sappy love song? You couldn't have thrown us a big "everybody's dancing at the party" number before we shovel on the treacle? Yeah, I know, you're in a rush to set up this couple before the real story starts, but ... yeesh.

Noah
[User Picture]
From:sup3rmark
Date:October 2nd, 2007 11:36 pm (UTC)
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Um, excuse me, Spatch, but if you read ANY of the news articles (which I am obligated to do at my job, which is movie publicity), you'd know that they don't even make out until the second movie.
[User Picture]
From:maren
Date:October 3rd, 2007 04:09 pm (UTC)
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You know what's even worse than "Disney's High School Musical"? A suburban middle school drama club performing selections from "Disney's High School Musical". as a "surprise treat" (a/k/a no warning). At a benefit event you're attending. And you can't escape without causing a rude commotion.
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:October 9th, 2007 05:02 pm (UTC)
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The "Uh oh, gotta go, cat's on fire" ruse always works.

[User Picture]
From:fancycwabs
Date:October 9th, 2007 04:28 pm (UTC)
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Congratulations! You're now on the front page of Google Searches for "Avenue Q School Edition!"

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