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High School Musical

Movie review by
Lucy Maher, Common Sense Media
High School Musical Movie Poster Image
A modern-day Grease for tweens.
  • NR
  • 2006
  • 98 minutes
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 60 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 208 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

No direct educational content, but kids will probably learn lots of song lyrics!

Positive Messages

Strong, clear positive messages about being true to yourself and reaching outside your comfort zone.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Gabriella is praised and appreciated for her academic ability. One central character tries to cheat but eventually sees the error of her ways. The cast is diverse. Troy and his dad exchange some heated words, but they reach an understanding that works for both of them. Characters learn and demonstrate empathy, teamwork, and integrity.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff

Mild flirting, with the teenage leads almost sharing a kiss in the final scene. There's one kiss on the cheek, and Efron is shirtless in one scene.


"Shake your booty" pops up in song lyrics.


Part of a gigantic marketing machine fueled by Disney.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bydont care September 1, 2009

12+ Great Learning Experience

i personally think this movie was GREAT!! I mean ya the dances and singing int the middle of class it the musical part of the movie. I think that it really does... Continue reading
Parent of a 4, 8, 11, 13, 15, and 17 year old Written byPROUDMOMMY July 29, 2009


All 3 of these movies are really bad for kids under 15!! I only let my 15 & 17 year olds watch it once. I was thinking about letting my 13 year old wa... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byIooba kitty February 11, 2010

stupid movie, bad role models and bad outlook on life

the absolute worse movie i have EVER seen. stupid. too many kids obsess over it. i have always hated this movie... bad role models and bad ways to look at the w... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byBeebler April 17, 2014

How this Movie Changed my Life

Here's the deal, I'm sixteen. When I first saw this movie back in the day, I thought it was lame, yo. However, now, looking back, I can truly apprecia... Continue reading

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?

  • How do the characters in High School Musical demonstrate integrity, empathy, and teamwork? Why are these important character strengths?

Movie details

Character Strengths

Find more movies that help kids build character.

For kids who love musicals

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