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High School Musical (2006)

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 2/17/2009

All Ratings out of
Audio: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 2/25/2009

In my recent review for High School Musical 3: Senior Year, I wrote about how the franchise has become a phenomenon. My point being that the movies have taken on a life of their own, and nothing, certainly not my ramblings, can taint that reputation. Simply walk into any stores which has the slightest chance of catering to tweens and you'll be bombarded with High School Musical merchandise. Yes, the damage is done. But, that doesn't mean that it wouldn't be interesting to go back and look at what started it all. We get that opportunity as High School Musical comes to Blu-ray Disc.

High School Musical opens at a ski resort on New Year's Eve. Troy (Zac Efron) is there with his family, but he and his father, Jack (Bart Johnson), are more interested in playing basketball than going to a party. Likewise, Gabriella (Vanessa Hudgens), who is at the resort with her mother, has to be pulled away from her book. Troy and Gabriella both go to the "young adults" party and find themselves thrown on-stage for karaoke. They both sing well, and afterwards Troy wants to learn more about this girl, but she disappears. The scene then jumps ahead a week later at East High School in Albuquerque. There, Troy is glad to be reunited with his best friend, Chad (Corbin Bleu), both of whom are on the basketball team. The state finals are in two weeks and the school is abuzz about the game. When Troy goes to home room, he's shocked to find Gabriella there, and learn that she's just transferred to the school. Meanwhile, it's time for the school's winter musical, and siblings Sharpay (Ashley Tisdale) and Ryan (Lucas Grabeel) expect to take their usual places as lead in the production. However, singing with Gabriella at the party awakened something in Troy and he convinces his new friend that they should audition. The entire school is shocked that basketball star Troy suddenly has an interest in singing. Troy must decide which of his passions he wants to follow, basketball or singing. And he must decide how his newfound feelings for Gabriella will effect this decision.

My wife and I attempt to be good parents and when High School Musical first became popular, we watched it to make sure that it was appropriate for our daughters. I haven't seen the movie since that time (actually, I never thought that I'd see it again), and, seeing it again, I noticed two things. The first is something that I did note upon my first viewing of the movie -- the entire opening is lifted directly from Grease. I guess that every generation has its musical and this could be taken as a homage to that classic movie, or a wink to the parents who are watching High School Musical with their kids. Either way, there's no denying that the introduction and then reuniting of Troy and Gabriella bears more than a passing resemblance to how Danny and Sandy met.

The thing that I picked up on this time is just how benign High School Musical is. I remember not being overwhelmed by it the first time, but now knowing that the movies transcend any expectations that anyone could have had, it's interesting to look back and see that while the movie may be a somewhat solid piece of fluff, there's nothing to indicate how huge it would become. The story itself is somewhat trite and very predictable. The acting is OK, with no one here really stealing the show. For a made-for-TV movie, the songs are notably catchy. Is this what made High School Musical so big? I knocked High School Musical 3 for having mediocre songs, and watching the original again, there's no denying that the tunes are catchy. While I find "Get'cha Head in the Game" to be the most annoying song in the bunch, I must admit that using the squeak of shoes on a basketball court as part of the music was a stroke of genius.

But, once again, I have to say that I'm not the target audience for this movie. Sure, it's a bit vanilla, but that's OK since the movie is made for those who probably aren't ready for anything any spicier. The movie does have a good message about believing in who you are and having the courage to step outside of the norm. And, again, the songs are pretty good. But, from now on, I'm going to leave all of the High School Musical stuff to my kids.

High School Musical bops onto Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment. (This Blu-ray is labeled "Remix", but it's the same movie which has been available in the past. This is not an extended cut as far as I can tell.) The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 28 Mbps. The image is sharp and fairly clear, showing slight grain, but no defects from the source material. While watching High School Musical on Blu-ray, one must remember that this was a little made-for-TV movie and I doubt that a high-def transfer was in anyone's mind at the time it was produced. Having said that, the image here is pretty bland. The colors are very good, but the image is somewhat flat, not showing the sort of depth or detail which we expect from BD. The Disc has a Linear PCM 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and a constant rate of 6.9 Mbps. This track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. We're here for the music, and it sounds very good on this track. The vocals are clear and audible, the individual instruments can be heard in the stereo channels, and some of tracks provide good bass. In crowd scenes, we get a nice dose of surround sound.

The High School Musical Blu-ray Disc contains a number of extras. "Sing Along with the Movie" places karaoke-style subtitles on-screen while viewing the film. The Disc contains MUSIC VIDEOS for the songs "I Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You" (3 minutes), "We're All In This Together" (2 minutes), "Breaking Free - Remix" (3 minutes), and "We're All In This Together - Remix" (4 minutes). These are performed by the cast and are comprised of clips from the film or (faux) recording studio footage. We also get the MUSIC VIDEO for "Eres Tu" performed by Belanova. "Bringing it All Together: The Making of High School Musical" (9 minutes) features comments from Director/Choreographer Kenny Ortega and the cast who discuss the movie. They talk about the story, how they got involved in the film, and the production. We are treated to some rehearsal and on-set footage. "Learning the Moves" (4 minutes) shows Tisdale and Grabeel practicing the dance to "Bop To The Top". We can watch the practice from different angles and then see the final production. "Hollywood Premiere" (2 minutes) shows the cast and various fan arriving on the red carpet to celebrate the DVD release of the movie. "A High School Reunion" (6 minutes) is a montage of footage showing the effects of the movie, including the cast on tour, accepting awards, and appearing in other projects. "Disney Channel Dance Alongs" (17 minues) teaches us how to dance to "Get'cha Head in the Game" and "We're All in This Together".

Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long