Troy Bolton, the star athlete at a small-town high school, falls for nerdy beauty Gabriella Montez at a holiday karaoke party. When they return to campus, Troy and Gabriella audition for the upcoming school musical. Meanwhile, the jealous Sharpay Evans conspires to squelch their chances. The two must struggle to make it to auditions while also meeting their existing obligations to the basketball team and the academic decathlon.
Zac Efron…Troy Bolton
Vanessa Hudgens…Gabriella Montez
Ashley Tisdale…Sharpay Evans
Lucas Grabeel…Ryan Evans
Corbin Bleu…Chad Danforth
Monique Coleman…Taylor McKessie
Bart Johnson…Coach Jack Bolton
Alyson Reed…Ms. Darbus
Chris Warren…Zeke Baylor
Olesya Rulin…Kelsi Nielsen
I’ve got to give it to the original himbo – Ryan. The guy couldn’t even read, he was just there for the vibes. Plus Lucas Grabeel was doing the most in every musical number he was in. He’s such a good singer and I feel like he didn’t get the recognition he deserved. Plus apparently, he is canonically gay, but Disney wouldn’t allow it at the time, so don’t even get me started on the Kelsi thing in film three. Such a weird pairing, he had way more chemistry with Chad.
Best supporting character
There is 100% a correct answer to ‘who is the best supporting character in High School Musical?’ and it is Zeke. If you don’t agree with me then that’s a you problem. I love Zeke with my whole heart. He’s so cute when he talks about his baking and I love that he has a crush on Sharpay. The end scene where she runs into the gym eating his cookie and jumps up to hug him is one of my favourites. It’s a bit weird though that they pair them together at the end of the films despite them never actually establishing a relationship. They would definitely be my favourite ship if that were the case.
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I love a good audition scene in films and TV and High School Musical has to be one of the most iconic. When watching the film for this review, I hadn’t seen it for a good 10 years(ish) but I could still quote this scene word for word. Miss Darbus’ comment about the spoken word kids seeking professional help is so funny.
Right after the audition sequence, you get the moment where Kelsi, not so gracefully, trips over the piano and throws her sheet music everywhere. Not only is this hilarious (sorry Kelsi) but also it just looks too fake. The paper doesn’t even go in teh direction it would have if she actually fell, you can see her intentionally throw it. I do love Kelsi though, so no hate.
This isn’t a full scene but I love Sharpay’s “CALL BACK *screams*” moment. It’s so funny and overdramatic, but I’d expect nothing less.
I’m including Sharpay and Ryan’s version of What I’ve Been Looking For here instead of the musical moment section because it is so much more than a song. The sibling rivalry, the showmanship, Sharpay’s sparkly microphone. Ah, it’s so good and is actually the better version of the song if you ask me.
The number of times these characters “hide” from each other in plain sight but never actually see each other is ridiculous. My favourite is Gabriella hiding from Sharpay in the toilets. Sharpay looks in the mirror in the exact place Gabriella is “hiding” but for some unknown reason doesn’t see her. It’s both hilarious and frustrating. Everyone needs an eye test.
Best quotes and one liners
GABRIELLA: Well, you sound like you’ve done a lot of singing, too.
TROY: Yeah, my showerhead is very impressed with me.
TROY: Sharpay’s kinda cute too.
CHAD: Yeah, so is a mountain lion, but you don’t pet it.
GABRIELLA: When I was singing with you, I felt like just a girl.
TROY: You even look like one too!
MS. DARBUS: That’ll be 15 minutes for you as well, Mr. Danforth. Count ’em!
TAYLOR: That might be difficult for Chad, since he probably can’t count that high.
RYAN: Wow, an Einsteinette. So why do you think she is interested in our musical?
SHARPAY: I’m not sure that she is… But we needn’t concern ourselves with amateurs. But… there is no harm in making certain that Gabriella is welcome to school activities that are… well, appropriate for her. After all… she loves pi.
SHARPAY: We need to save our show from people who don’t know the difference between a Tony Award and Tony Hawk.
SHARPAY: [fake smiling to the crowd] I told you not to do the jazz square.
RYAN: [fake smiling too] It’s a crowd favourite, everyone loves a good jazz square.
CHAD: Look, you’re a hoops dude. Not a musical singer person. Have you ever seen Michael Crawford on a cereal box?
TROY: Who’s Michael Crawford?
CHAD: Exactly my point. He was the “Phantom of the Opera” on Broadway. Now my mom, she’s seen that musical 27 times and she put Michael Crawford’s picture in our refrigerator. Not on it. IN it. So my point is, if you play basketball, you’ll end up on the cereal box. If you sing in musicals, you’ll end up in my mom’s refrigerator.
TROY: Why would she put his picture in your refrigerator?
CHAD: I don’t know, one of her crazy diet ideas. Look, I don’t attempt to understand the female mind, Troy. It’s frightening territory.
TAYLOR: But we’re not Charlie’s Angels, okay?
CHAD: I can dream, can’t I?
SHARPAY: [to Zeke] Evaporate tall person.
Most iconic outfit
I wasn’t sure whether I should go full comedy in this section and talk about the nine different hats Ryan wears throughout or the time Chad wears three watches. But no, this section is basically just for the absolute queen that is Sharpay and no my favourite outfit isn’t the blue dress with feather hair piece from Bop To The Top. It’s actually the white strapless dress with the empire line black ribbon, orange bolero, matching cylindrical box bag and angled metallic gold flat cap that looks like it could fall off her head in the slightest of breezes. It sounds abysmal written down, but I was obsessed with this look as a kid and honestly, I still am. It’s got pure 2000s vibes.
Best musical moments
As this is a film about music, it’s very difficult to pick just a few good musical moments. Most of the songs and dance sequences in this film are masterpieces, but you don’t want to read me talking about all of them, so I’ll just pick a few.
We have to kick it off with Start of Something New. This song makes me incredibly emotional every time it starts, don’t ask why, I’m weird. But this whole song/scene is so deeply ingrained into my memory, I want someone to duet it with me at karaoke.
I love Stick To The Status Quo because it’s the first proper ensemble song, but the people at Zeke’s table telling everyone to gather around when he’s about to share his secret is a bit rude, isn’t it? I would have been fuming if I was Zeke. Oh well, at least his secret was just about baking and not like murder or something. That would have made High School Musical a very different film.
The last musical moment mentioned has to be We’re All In This Together because let’s be honest, it’s incredible. I absolutely love Ryan’s dancing, he is really doing the most.
I have to give an honourable mention to Trory singing on Gabriella’s balcony. I think this is one of the only times Zac Efron actually sings in this film and I’m sorry to say that it’s pretty bad – which isn’t fully his fault because there was no accompaniment to guide him. The second-hand embarrassment is real though and it’s so cringe it’s borderline funny. Thank god he got better.
My second honourable mention goes to I Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You as it is an absolute bop, but it didn’t make it to the film. I’m sure what the story is there, but I remember loving the song and I used to try and sing both Sharpay and Ryan’s parts at the same time. This used to happen when I was a kid and I carried around a CD player and sang the songs out loud in public. I feel bad for my family looking back, but I do wish I had that kind of confidence these days – I do still love singing though.
Final thoughts and fun facts
My life was forever changed when this film came out. I remember sitting on the floor at my grandparents watching the timer count down to its release. I’ve always been a musical theatre girlie™ and this film was everything to me. So much so that I performed both Bop To The Top and Breaking Free in a talent show at school. I can’t believe I’m admitting it on the internet, but I’m not ashamed, I killed it.
I used to be the biggest fan of both Troy and Gabriella, but watching it again as an adult I’ve realised they’re not so great. I’m fully team Sharpay now, she just wants to put on a good show and she works really hard. But oh no. Troy and Gabriella stroll in, can apparently sightread music, and take it all away from her. Poor Sharpay.
My biggest peeve with these films is how often they dub the actors during songs. Obviously, we all know Zac Efron doesn’t sing in this one – something to do with him getting the part late and the songs didn’t fit his range. Which let’s be honest, is a pretty easy fix, so it’s a lazy excuse. But the biggest issue with me is how often they dub Gabriella/Vanessa in When There Was Me and You. It’s always on the low notes and it’s very noticeable. Well, I’ve only just realised despite seeing this film about 20 times, but once you hear it, you can’t unhear it. She’s a good singer, as is the whole cast, so why are they being dubbed so often? It doesn’t make sense. If she couldn’t hit those notes, bring them up a third or an octave.
In Corbin Bleu’s first appearance at the school, he was wearing three different watches. He was given a choice of which one he wanted to wear, so he chose all three of them. Each was set to different time zones. He also came up with all of the slogans on the T-shirts he wears throughout the film.
The fact that Lucas Grabeel wore nine different hats during the movie is completely pointless, but also quite funny. So now you know.
I fully plan to do the rest of the High School Musical films and I may even add a section to my film review menu called ‘Disney Channel Classics’. Is it a bit cringe, maybe? But I’m a very nostalgic person and I still love these types of films.
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