Unless you've been living in a hole, then you know that last Friday was a very big day for high schools, musicals, and Zac Efron fans everywhere: the opening of High School Musical 3: Senior Year
Over the weekend, the movie was #1 at the box office, earning $42 million in the US and $40 million internationally. Hello, that's enough money for Troy to fix his sorry little truck about a zillion times over!
So, were you one of the brave souls who fought the crowds to secure a spot on opening night? You can bet that your dedicated bloggers — Nancy, Karen, Carly H., Carly M., and Morgan — were there!
The five of us met in the office lobby after work and speed walked our way to the closest movie theater. As we got within a block of our destination, we noticed that a group of middle school aged girls were overtaking us, and we actually started to run a little bit.
Once inside, we were herded into line amongst a multitude of eager fans. Somehow we found ourselves in the middle of a big group of kids and parents who had all come together, with little red graduation caps and EHS megaphones in tow. While we waited, a few of them popped open a laptop and huddled around it to sing along to the soundtrack.
Then the theater doors opened and the stampede began. With so many of us, we knew that finding seats together would be futile, so we split up and scattered ourselves around. Unable to exchange glances or see each other's reactions during the movie, this blog entry is not just a way to tell you guys about our experiences, but also to share them with each other!
So here goes — and BTW, SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT!
Prelude: The Previews
Morgan: Before the movie even began, the HSM experience was well underway. One of the first trailers was for an upcoming comedy starring Zac Efron and Matthew Perry — and the second Zac came onscreen, whoops of delight echoed throughout the theater. The young girl next to me even knocked over my popcorn, she got so excited!
Nancy: I squealed along with the other audience members — I'm definitely going to see 17 Again when it comes out!
Act 1: The Basketball Game (Now or Never)
Re-cap: The movie opens with East High's basketball team struggling on the court: "16, 16, 16 more minutes left…" But thanks to a sneaky maneuver from team co-captain Troy Bolton and assistance from sophomore Jimmie "The Rocket," the Eagles clinch a victory.
Morgan: This opening scene immediately set the stage for another sequel — already, we know who the next leading men will be! Plus, the song was super catchy, and everyone around me already knew all the words. In particular, the little girls behind me would sing a verse from it even at other parts of the movie — they clearly wanted to hear it again!
Carly H.: I love Baby!Skater!Troy, he's hilarious.
Karen: From watching the trailer and commercials, I was eagerly anticipating the moment where Gabriella stands up in the bleachers and sings her encouragement to Troy. In fact, in the days leading up to the move release, I kept sending IMs to Nancy that just consisted of, "TROOOOOOOOOOOOOY!" — which probably annoyed her a little, now that I think about it . . .
Act 2: The Party (Right Here, Right Now)
Re-cap: The next scene opens with Troy and Chad pushing Troy's beat-up truck in front of Troy's house, where his parents are hosting a huge party to celebrate the Wildcats' win. In the front seat of the pick-up: the gleaming trophy. At the party, Troy has to dodge lots of well-wishers — including Jimmie "The Rocket" — in order to sneak in alone time with Gabriella in his tree house.
Carly H.: When Troy wanted to escape with Gabriella and not talk to everyone at the party, he said that he had to go get the trophy from his truck, which sounds like an invitation for someone to go steal the trophy to me.
Karen @Carly H.: Seriously. When Jimmie said he would get the trophy for Troy, I thought for sure it was going to lead to some wacky storyline about a missing trophy. Thank goodness the movie didn't go there!
Nancy: That was such a cool tree house!
Karen @Nancy: Agreed. Although, when the roof opened up, I definitely heard some snorts of disbelief from the people behind me.
Act 3: Sharpay's Entrance
Re-cap: Cut to the next day and a super slom-mo sequence showing Sharpay's arrival at school.
Nancy: Having just watched HSM2 the night before for the tenth time, I noticed that they played Fabulous in the background while Sharpay drove her pink convertible in.
Carly M.: If I went to EHS, I wouldn't move out of the way!
Nancy @Carly M.: I totally would have cowered. =/
Act 4: In the Hallway
Re-cap: Sharpay comes across the basketball team gathered together as Zeke places their new trophy into the school case for display. But being Sharpay, she's totally oblivious to this and asks, "When's the big game?"
Nancy: Aw, poor Zeke. I really thought he'd have a chance with Sharpay by now!
Karen @Nancy: Yeah, whatever happened to that romance? I thought they were setting it up at the end of HSM1, but then it's like they totally forgot about it. That's what I never understood about Sharpay's play for Troy in HSM2.
Act 5: The Birth of the Musicale
Re-cap: Skip past Sharpay "hiring" the new girl (Tiara) as a personal assistant. Skip past Kelsi signing up everyone for the spring musical because she doesn't want it to turn into the Sharpay show. Now we're at the juicy part: Gabriella convinces her friends to be part of the show, and Miss Darbus (the drama director) reveals that Julliard is considering four students for one scholarship spot. Up for the slot: Kelsi, Ryan, Sharpay, and — gasp! — Troy.
Nancy: Julliard is an amazing school — my bet was on Kelsi getting the scholarship!
Act 6: Sharpay and Ryan Envision the Future (I Want It All)
Re-cap: Sharpay leads Ryan through a huge musical number as they imagine what life will be like once they make it big in show business.
Morgan: I never realized how much of a "fan favorite" Ryan Evans/Lucas Grabeel is — from where I was sitting, sighs of "he's so cute!" and "I love him so much!" and "I'm glad he's such a big part of the storyline!" were heard every time he was on screen. The general consensus seemed to be that he is one of the best characters in HSM.
Carly H. @Morgan: Forget the fans, the wardrobe department for the movie clearly love Ryan/Lucas. OMG! His outfits were ridic/amazing.
Karen: My favorite musical moment of the entire movie was the Chicago-esque part at the end of this performance. I nearly spit on myself in delight.
Act 7: Up on the Roof (Can I Have This Dance)
Re-cap: Troy invites Gabriella up to the roof of the school, where he invites her to prom and the lovebirds get in some practice waltzing — in the pouring rain, no less.
Carly H.: You can only see their feet when they're dancing. That means it's really stunt doubles doing the dance.
Karen @Carly H.: Way to ruin the magic, Carly.
Carly M.: This is every girl's dream . . . but I honestly don't know one boy who would ever do this.
Nancy: This was my favorite song in the movie; classic Disney romantic duet!
Act 7: Shenanigans!
Re-cap: Troy and Chad steal Jimmie and Donny's clothes while the younger boys are in the showers. A high-stakes chase ensues.
Carly H.: More Baby!Skater!Troy being amazing.
Nancy: Another funny moment — seeing short Donny next to a really tall volleyball player.
Karen: I didn't see the point of this segment. If Troy had been running around in just a towel, yes. But I just felt bad for these poor kids. At the end of this part, someone behind me echoed my sentiment and said, "Why did they do that? It's so mean!"
Act 8: Popping the Question
Re-cap: Skip past Troy and Gabriella canoodling in the hammock. Back to school, where Chad does a pretty bad job of inviting Taylor to the prom. To make it up to her, he has to pull himself together and re-ask her in the cafeteria — but only after Troy hands him a small bouquet of flowers and gets everyone in the room to quiet down so that Chad can be heard. Taylor says yes, of course.
Karen: Did anyone else think the bouquet was weak?
Nancy: Uh, yeah. But they are high school boys . . .
Act 9: Prom Pre-enactment (A Night to Remember)
Re-cap: The gang rehearses a musical number from the show where they act out getting ready and attending the prom. Awesome!
Morgan: The bigger production efforts were well-demonstrated in scenes like this one; everyone around me was whispering about how cool the sets were and how it almost looked like a Broadway-musical-turned-movie (a la Rent).
Nancy: Ah, this made me want to go to prom all over again . . . with a new wardrobe! The girls' dresses were awesome.
Karen: Another squeal-inducing Zac moment came during this number: his disco move in the powder blue tux.
Act 10: At the Piano
Re-cap: Skip past the scene in the yearbook office where Gabriella tells Taylor about her acceptance to Stanford's program. Let's get to the good stuff, shall we — like when Ryan asks Kelsi to prom!
Morgan: The "Ryan factor" was clear here — when he asked Kelsi to prom, the teenagers next to me squealed, and one said, "Ryan would be the most awesome prom date ever!"
Act 11: Spotlight on Troy and Gabriella (Just Wanna Be With You)
Re-cap: Back to rehearsals! The next number has Troy and Gabriella practicing their romantic duet while Ryan choreographs everyone's dance moves.
Karen: After watching Ryan struggle to come into his own in HSM2, I loved seeing him in his element, master of totally amazing choreography. @Morgan: Ryan really would be the most awesome prom date ever because he's such a good dancer!
Act 12: In the Junkyard (The Boys Are Back)
Re-cap: Troy and Chad go to the junkyard to find a replacement part for Troy's sorry truck, and they start reminiscing about playing make-believe when they were kids. Time for another full-on fantastical musical number!
Karen: I thought the segment with little Troy and little Chad was absolutely adorable — and apparently so did everyone else in the audience, judging by the collective "Awwwww" could be heard throughout the theater.
Carly H. @Karen: Yes! Amazing!
Nancy @Carly M.: It also reminded me of the scene in Grease when they sing in auto shop.
Act 13: Saying Goodbye (Walk Away)
Re-cap: Troy surprises Gabriella with a picnic in her bedroom and encourages her to accept the Stanford program even though it will mean leaving school early. Gabriella bids him goodnight, but the audience sees that she really means goodbye.
Carly M.: Chocolate covered strawberries . . . I certainly wouldn't turn Troy away.
Act 14: A Fateful Phone Call
Re-cap: Skip past the awful rehearsals in Gabriella's absence to even more devastating news — Gabriella won't be returning for the prom or graduation. Could this really be the end of her relationship with Troy? Sniffle, sniffle.
Karen: I was so sad for Troy at this point, but then I got a nice laugh in when Chad was trying to comfort Troy and said that everyone knows you can't take the girl from high school with you to college. At that point, I overheard a woman near me remarking, "I wonder if Taylor knows that!" which was exactly what I was thinking!
Act 15: Zac Efron Showcase (Scream)
Re-cap: Troy does some serious soul-searching — as he dances his way around the school in the middle of a storm.
Carly H.: That sentence doesn't even begin to describe the amazingness that took place on screen in this scene. Zac leaps/flies down the flight of steps in the cafeteria. There's a two-story-high banner of Troy playing basketball that he dramatically pulls down. There are windows behind him, and there's well placed dramatic lightning charging the scene. (The lightning and stairs actually remind me of Rocky Horror when Meatloaf first shows up.) He dances down the hallway a la The Breakfast Club. He's in a spinning room/hallway a la the *NSync video for Bye Bye Bye. It's an amazing tribute to every awesome song-and-dance routine to ever exist. Also, if there's a breakout star from this series, it's got to be Zac. He is amazing. I like Vanessa as much as the next person, but I'm assuming all her solo songs are just her standing on that balcony because she can't dance that well. Zac outshines her by a zillion.
Karen @Carly H.: I can't believe you didn't mention that Zac takes off his shirt during this sequence! If there had been a squeal-o-meter for the entire movie, I think it would have recorded the highest volume at this moment. Of course, the screams of delight were quickly followed by murmurings of disappointment when Zac put on his basketball jersey before turning around. Sorry, ladies.
Carly M.: "Footloose, Footloose . . ." Kevin Bacon would be so proud.
Morgan @Carly M.: I've been hearing rumors about Zac doing the remake of Footloose — and in this scene, I decided that if it happens, I will be first in line!
Act 16: Reunited (Can I Have This Dance, Reprise)
Re-cap: If the bedroom picnic made you faint, then you probably died at this part of the movie: Troy drives out to Stanford to surprise Gabriella. He's waiting for her in the suit that he rented for their prom, and he tells her that for him, the prom is wherever she is. Gabriella, of course, is smitten all over again.
Morgan: Another swoon-worthy moment for the audience. I wonder if HSM is setting up millions of girls for disappointment when it comes to their own prom dates?
Nancy: Squee!! I wish cute boys would fall out of the sky from trees all the time. What's with Troy and trees?
Karen: Hello, is no one going to mention the kiss?! Major kiss here!
Nancy @Karen: That was definitely a re-playable kiss. I may buy the DVD solely because of that kiss.
Act 17: Meanwhile, Back at EHS . . .
Re-cap: To no one's surprise, Sharpay is utterly delighted to be the female lead in the musical — until she finds that Jimmie is playing Troy's role! After their decidedly unromantic duet, Sharpay rushes offstage in a rage, only to see Troy and Gabriella arriving back at school just in time to save the play. As if that weren't bad enough for Sharpay, she then discovers that Tiara has been plotting against her all this time and is intent on playing Sharpay's role. In no time, the audience is treated to a number starring dueling Sharpays . . .
Morgan: My favorite part? When Sharpay says, "But you're just a London schoolgirl," and Tiara responds, "Yes, the London Academy of Dramatic Arts," and then mentions that she's preparing to lead the drama department next year. Oh, snap!
Nancy: I was glad to see Sharpay back in action — crying in her dressing room is so not her!
Karen: IMHO, Tiara was definitely a poor stand-in for Sharpay. In fact, I would have loved to see more of Sharpay's extravagant, totally self-centered song-and-dance numbers in this movie in general. My fave part of HSM2 is when Sharpay struts across the stage and all but bulldozes poor Troy during their supposed "duet."
Act 18: The Big Decision (We're All in This Together, Graduation Mix)
Re-cap: The end of the musical is a scene where the seniors stand in caps and gowns while Miss Darbus announces their plans for the future — including that both Kelsi and Ryan have been offered Julliard scholarships!
Carly H.: I want the sequel to be Kelsi and Ryan's adventures in NY at Julliard!
Nancy: Yay! My guess was right . . . well, mostly right.
Troy reveals that he has decided to attend UC Berkeley, where he can pursue both basketball and theater, not to mention be close to Gabriella while she's at Stanford.
Nancy: Just 32.7 miles!
Morgan: I think the girls next to me fainted at this point. For serious.
And Chad and Troy make peace with going their separate ways, reassuring one another that they'll remain friends despite the distance — especially since they'll be playing each other's teams during the season.
Nancy: Ooh, another sequel opportunity?
Act 19: The Finale (High School Musical)
Re-cap: Time for the real graduation! Troy gives a speech honoring Gabriella for changing EHS for the better, and then it's time for the class to toss their caps in the air and celebrate.
Carly H.: Best! Movie! Ever! (Or at least of the weekend.)
Carly M.: High school would have been so much better if everyone busted out in song every once in a while.
Karen: If you'll excuse me, I have to go listen to the soundtrack for the billionth time now . . .
Nancy: If you'll excuse me, maybe I'll go visit Zac over in the movie theatre . . .
So now you know what we thought. Tell us YOUR thoughts about HSM3! We can't wait to hear!
— N, K, C, C, and M