"High School Musical 2" release poster. (Photo retrieved from IMDb)

‘High School Musical 2’: the good, the bad and the funny

“High School Musical: The Musical — The Series” was released last year on Disney+.

The series centers around a group of high school students doing a musical production of the “High School Musical” movies at their school. Carlos Rodriguez, a self-proclaimed “High School Musical” fan, says he watched only the first 15 minutes of the second and third movies and then disowned them. This couldn’t be more wrong. Arguably, the first 10 minutes of the second movie features the best musical number of all three.

Although the second movie came out only a year after the original, putting me at age 4, I can easily imagine fans’ anticipation building, ecstatic for the return of Troy and Gabriella on their home TV screen. The director, Kenny Ortega, perfectly encapsulates this excitement by opening the scene with all of the students staring at an oversized classroom clock, counting down until summer begins.

We had waited a year to see more of the over-the-top, unrealistic musical numbers, and Ortega made them better than ever.

The sequel is amplified in every way, meaning the good parts are accentuated, but so are the bad. 

The premise of this movie is that it’s summer break, and Troy (Zac Efron) and his friends are looking for summer jobs. Sharpay (Ashley Tisdale) wants to spend the summer with Troy, so she gets him a job at her family’s resort. To her dismay, all of Troy’s friends, and his girlfriend, Gabriella (Vanessa Hudgens) are hired. Because Sharpay’s dad is on the board at Troy’s dream school, she blackmails him through scholarships to get him to do the talent show with her. Troy takes the bait and repeatedly chooses his future over his friends.

The best part of this movie is the well-choreographed and catchy musical numbers, such as “What Time Is It,” “I Don’t Dance” and “Bet on It.”

Although incredibly unrealistic, the “I Don’t Dance” sequence brings together Chad (Corbin Bleu), a stereotypical jock, and Ryan (Lucas Grabeel), a drama geek, making it seem important. This scene is extremely meta since Ryan is trying to convince Chad to dance while both are singing and dancing in a musical number. 

This musical number is also entertaining due to its setting, a baseball field, as the backup dancers swing bats in unison. The combination of singing and dancing with playing baseball is a fun mix of disparate activities. On the other hand, Chris Millsback, Country Day’s baseball coach, would probably scoff at the players’ terrible form.

In the first film, Efron was dubbed over, and the singing was done by Canadian actor Drew Seeley. In the sequel, we finally get to hear Efron sing, and he’s surprisingly good, maybe even better than Seeley. 

However there are a lot of bad parts in this movie that make it painful to watch.

For example, in much of the movie, Troy abandons his friends to work out with college basketball players. His fellow Wildcats feel offended that Troy chose to live out his dream and receive a college scholarship over playing sports and practicing for the talent show with them. This doesn’t make any sense because friends would want each other to follow their dreams, especially if the opportunity is presented to them. 

Troy is vilified throughout this movie by having questions thrown at him like “Them or us?” in which the right answer is obviously “Them,” but when Troy chooses that, his friends criticize him.

The last thing that is subpar about this movie is a bit nitpicky.

During the song “Work This Out,” Zeke (Chris Warren), the definition of a side character, says, “Get tickets to the Knicks and Sixers.” When I first heard this lyric, something sounded wrong, but I wasn’t sure what. So, I started digging until I finally found what I was looking for. The players live in Albuquerque, so why would they want to see teams from New York and Philadelphia when they could see the Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs or Houston Rockets? 

Also, the Knicks and 76ers were below .500 in 2007, and the Knicks’ best player in the past 20 years, Carmelo Anthony, was still playing for the Nuggets. If these were championship teams, this would loosely make sense, but their poor records signal to the audience that this line was more focused on rhyme scheme than logic.

Overall, this movie really steps up to the plate, delivering a mostly humorous, entertaining experience.

★★★★☆

— By Dylan Margolis