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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that High School Musical is a made-for-TV movie that's hugely popular with tweens -- and has spawned its own marketing empire, from CDs to clothes to video games. Its sanitized depiction of high school may not ring true to older teens, but tweens will get strong messages about acceptance and being true to yourself -- as well as about supporting your friends when they want to try something new. A father-son relationship is tested when the boy asserts his independence, and there are some near-kisses between the lead couple, but overall this is tame stuff.
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What's the story?
Filled with important messages, HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL is an upbeat made-for-TV movie about a pair of teens who, after discovering a mutual love of song, overcome pressure from friends to ditch their newfound hobby. Troy (Zac Efron) and Gabriella (Vanessa Anne Hudgens) meet when they are paired for a New Year's Eve karaoke contest while vacationing with their families. Once they return to East High, Troy, captain of the school's basketball team, and studious Gabriella, who has just transferred in, find out that they're in the same homeroom class and become friends. And when auditions are announced for the school's musical, the pair decides to try out. Their duet is impressive enough to earn a callback, which sparks the anger of usual lead performers Sharpay Evans (Ashley Tisdale) and her brother Ryan (Lucas Grabeel). Also unhappy are the members of Gabriella's academic decathlon team, who need her help to win an upcoming match, and Troy's teammates, who have been practicing for an important championship game. Fearful that the pair might choose singing over them, the groups work together to convince Gabriella that Troy is no longer interested in trying out for the play. But once they see how hurtful their actions are, they come clean, and Gabriella and Troy figure out a way to do everything.
Is it any good?
What infuses this movie with much of its spunk are Efron's and Hudgens' lively performances; both come across as friendly, well-adjusted, and immensely likable. During the song-and-dance-filled musical numbers -- including "Breaking Free," "Start of Something New," and "We're All in This Together" (all Billboard 100 hits) -- High School Musical sometimes feels more like a music video. The only thing that really detracts from the movie is the sugar-coated way that it portrays issues that regularly cause teens angst, such as entrenched cliques, self-esteem, and peer pressure. The world of High School Musical seems to be right next door to Pleasantville, where everything works out and everyone gets along in the end.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether the characters in High School Musical good role models. What do you think the filmmakers want kids to take away from watching this movie?
What are some ways to resist peer pressure? How can teens stand up to friends who belittle their choices or talents?
Why is it important to try new things?
- In theaters: January 20, 2006
- On DVD or streaming: May 23, 2006
- Cast: Ashley Tisdale, Vanessa Hudgens, Zac Efron
- Director: Kenny Ortega
- Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
- Genre: Musical
- Character Strengths: Empathy, Integrity, Teamwork
- Run time: 98 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Awards/Honors: Common Sense Media Award
- Last updated: November 29, 2019
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