The cast will return.
On Saturday at Disney’s D23 Expo, the entertainment giant announced that the original cast of the “High School Musical” trilogy will make an appearance in “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” Season 4, where the students will be filming a fake High School Musical 4. With one of the greatest Disney Channel cast returning, let us look back on the trilogy that started it all and the best movie in the franchise.
Upon the release of “High School Musical 2”, it was just another Disney Channel sequel that kids would watch once and then forget about. However, unlike many of those Disney Channel original movies, High School Musical 2 remains popular. The franchise’s popularity boomed to the point that they created a Sharpay spinoff movie and a Disney+ sequel show.
So how did the “High School Musical” franchise get so much attention over the other Disney Channel original movies? Well, that’s simple, because of Disney’s misunderstood masterpiece.
“High School Musical 2” follows the students of East High, the Wildcats, as they search for summer jobs. Sharpay Evans, the trilogy’s main antagonist, gets Troy Bolton, the series’ main protagonist, a job at her family’s country club, Lava Springs. Sharpay’s plan is to use her family’s money and connections to set up Troy with a great summer and future. As endearing as it may sound, Sharpay is only doing this to steal Troy away from his girlfriend, Gabriella. The movie follows the group through their summer jobs and how Sharpay’s actions will test the characters’ friendship.
The entire movie has Troy struggling to choose between his present and future. Throughout the movie, we see Troy slowly lose himself and become something he is not, self-entitled. Troy has a problem throughout the series, where he desperately wants to fit in and be loved. In the first movie, we see Troy struggle with singing, because that’s not what his friends and his father want for him. But in the sequel, Troy causes the conflict for himself.
Troy stresses about his future and tries everything he can to ensure his success because he believes that’s what the people he cares about want from him. In reality, Troy is ruining the relationships that he cares about, and becomes distant from his friends and Gabriella. Troy lets the idea of having a good future get in the way of his already good present. It’s not until Gabriella opens up to Troy about his change, with one of the best songs in the series “Gotta Go My Own Way,” that Troy realizes he’s become someone he doesn’t recognize.
Where a lot of Disney channel movies would have the protagonist redeem themselves to their love interest or friends through an apology of some sort, High School Musical 2 takes it the extra step. Troy first doesn’t need to apologize to his friends and Gabriella, but he needs to apologize to himself. “High School Musical 2” does this in the perfect way with Troy’s solo in the movie, “Bet On It”.
Even with just the first lyrics in the song, “Everybody’s always talkin’ at me. Everybody’s tryin’ to get in my head. I wanna listen to my own heart talkin’. I need to count on myself instead,” you can see Troy come to realize he needs to live for what he believes in, not what he believes others want. “Bet On It” is an incredible representation of Troy’s growth in the movie and is one of the best songs in a Disney Channel movie.
Although Troy’s characterization throughout the movie is done so well, he can’t carry it. The film also does a great job of allowing its side characters to shine. Chad and Ryan are excellent examples of this. The two help each other fully embrace who they are.
Up to this point, Ryan has been very distant from the rest of the East High Wildcats and Chad has been very adamant about sticking to sports and not dancing. The two have an incredible duet, titled “I Don’t Dance,” which is mainly to get Chad to express himself through dance. However, the song also brings Ryan closer to the rest of the Wildcats. While on the surface the song seems just like a fun way to get Chad to dance with everyone else, its main purpose is to allow Chad to open up emotionally, which we really haven’t seen him do. This plays well into Chad’s climax of the film, where he and Troy are able to rekindle their friendship through an emotional exchange.
“High School Musical 2” wouldn’t be “High School Musical” without its music. “Bet On It,” “I Don’t Dance” and “Gotta Go My Own Way” are just a few examples of masterfully picked songs on the film’s discovery. “What Time Is It?” is a great introduction song to get the audience excited for the summer of our characters.
If you have not watched High School Musical 2, you should check it out.