High School Musical 3: Senior Year Kenny Ortega

High School Musical 3: Senior Year Kenny Ortega
We may have to wait for the French critics to get their hands on High School Musical 3: Senior Year for it to receive its rightful acclaim as a surrealist masterpiece. Here is a movie so audaciously bizarre in its depiction of high school life that it’s like a cross between the Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland quickies of the ’30s and the pop art movement.

It’s senior year and the "world’s favourite highschoolers” are facing the existential dilemma of what to do with their lives. They agree to participate in one last school play, a musical about…. their own high school experiences. Everyone plays him or herself, with musical numbers devoted not only to the expected highlights (prom, basketball championship, etc.) but even personal lives (Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens’ romance, etc.). In a plot twist that can only be compared to Charlie Kaufman’s Synecdoche, New York, the graduates have understudies to play their real-life roles.

HSM3 is marketed to kids, tweens and Efron fans. They should walk away happy. The film is colourful, fast-paced, morally sound and full of beautiful people looking beautiful. But this is more than a kid flick; I choose to believe that director Kenny Ortega has created a biting, satiric deconstruction of movie clichés, teenage life and modern conformity.

I was astonished to see a high school drama club stage a play with a budget evidently in the millions and eat at a cafeteria that serves actual food instead of overpriced, reheated pizza slices. I especially enjoyed the massive party scene in which over 100 students convened in a suburban backyard with nary a keg, bong, nor drunken hook-up in sight. (This movie should be on a double bill with Superbad).

HSM3 does more than just sanitize the high school experience, it imagines a high school so idealistic that it belongs in Plato’s "World of Forms.” In HSM, there is no such thing as a clique — the "in crowd” is universally worshiped and in turn is kind and loving to everyone else. The audience gives Troy and Gabriella’s shameless serenade a standing ovation instead of resentful booing, as would be the case in any real-world high school.

Even the geeks are well liked and the few elitists are just lovable goofs. There are no loners, smokers, bigots or druggies. Nobody skips class or swears; everyone is good-looking and fashionable; everyone participates in school events; and everyone gets invited to the parties.

Call me crazy but High School Musical 3 might be one of the most revealing and subversive films about the American dream ever made. (Buena Vista)