13 July 2009 | bob the moo
An entertaining film with many flaws but many of them come with the territory and shouldn't be met with too much surprise
The low score on IMDb is representative of the majority opinion of those that are not really within the target audience of this film, however it is also the opinion of those who have never watched any of the High School Musical films for themselves. Rather than accepting that the film is not for them they also feel the need to deride it as worthless when really they mean that nothing about it holds any value for them. This is not the same as the HSM films being brilliant though – just I think that they come in for some overly harsh criticism by those that seem surprised that they do exactly what they propose to do. In a way it is like complaining that Star Wars is an awful film because it is a sci-fi.
OK, there is plenty wrong with HSM3. The plot is obvious but yet full of sanitised relationships and situations, cloying moral messages and forced sentiment and certainly if you are watching it as a film then yes there is plenty that is clunky. However it is probably not fair to pick holes in all of the obvious stuff while ignoring that it does actually do a good job as a musical. Have you been to a musical? It tends to bring cheesy overacting, big smiles, easy sentiment, big musical numbers and not a lot of room for gritty reality of teenage life and the messy business of teenage relationships – that HSM3 has all these faults is not really something that I'm going to kick it about. It is a bit overlong though and, at almost two hours it does have sections that appear to have little forward motion and perhaps lack pace or a sense of fun that it does when it is in good form. It could and should have lost at least 20 minutes in there somewhere and would have been better for it – although I know that Disney see it as a flagship product recently so want to do more with it. It must also be said that several of the musical numbers are not as fun as they should have been. Some don't inspire in terms of choreography and several of the songs come over as rather bland and samey.
The cast do well, although I understand why some viewers do not like the performances. Efron may not have a great range to expand out of this but he is a great presence in the film – he does singing and dancing really well and has a light touch that makes him easy to like. Likewise Hudgens, for all her photographic "scandals" delivers a wonderfully light turn that is nothing but sweetness. OK neither of them come over as real people but they are sweet and enjoyable couple at the heart of the film. As before Tisdale is fun and bitchy without being unlikeable and she works well with Grabeel. Bleu has less to do than before and I didn't think he was used that well – likewise Coleman.
Overall HSM3 is far from a great film. It is clunky and obvious, overlong, cheesy and is not the sort of thing that will win over viewers who do not like cheesy musicals – but it is a bit harsh to blame that on the film when it is pretty clear from the start that this is what it is setting out to be. It should not be given total forgiveness for its flaws and of course the casual viewer may be left a bit cold by aspects of it but if you are happy to meet it on its terms then it is a reasonably good (if sanitised and soullessly packaged) product.