High School Musical 3: Senior Year

  • Review Date: October 21, 2008
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Musical
  • Release Year: 2008
  • Running Time: 109 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Predictable but enjoyable musical is fine for tweens.
  • Review Date: October 21, 2008
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Musical
  • Release Year: 2008
  • Running Time: 109 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

 Friendships rule, as do big hopes for the future (educational and otherwise), and all's well that ends well.

Positive role models

High school sweethearts are kind and supportive of each other, managing to communicate well even about difficult issues. A teenage girl deliberately hogs the spotlight and connives to be center stage.

Violence & scariness

A father-son argument reaches near-yelling levels.

Sexy stuff

Mild flirting, lots of handholding, and one sweet kiss. A fair number of scenes with shirtless high school boys.


"Butt" is about as salty as it gets.


The film is part of Disney's enormous High School Musical franchise, which means that though there aren't many mentions of other products in the movie, the HSM brand is front and center.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the first big-screen High School Musical movie has been feverishly anticipated by the series' tween and teen fans. And they won't be disappointed. It's sweet, age-appropriate fun with very little edge (save for a few scenes featuring a nearly too-vampy Sharpay). There's no swearing, violence, drinking, or smoking, and the teen sweethearts don't do more than hold hands and kiss. Although it presents a "Disneyfied" view of teen life, the movie's overall message is positive and affirming (and the music is really catchy!).

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

The kids are back in a big way in HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 3. It's senior year, and the Wildcats have played their last game. Up next: Prom, the big musical, and, yes, graduation. Troy (Zac Efron) seems headed for the University of Albuquerque -- until Juilliard suddenly becomes an option. Will it be basketball or theater? And will his choice alienate his best friend, Chad (Corbin Bleu)? Meanwhile, Troy's beloved Gabriella (Vanessa Hudgens) is bound for Stanford, but will that mean saying goodbye to Troy for good? Sharpay (Ashley Tisdale) has her eye on Juilliard, too, but there's only one scholarship up for grabs, and her twin brother, Ryan (Lucas Grabeel), and their friend Kelsey, share the same dream. And then there's the gang's final stage production, a musical that's meant to be about them -- but it's hard to express who you are and what you want out of life when you don't quite know yet yourself.

Is it any good?


Earnest, schmaltzy, and wildly entertaining, High School Musical 3: Senior Year -- the first film in Disney's enormously popular HSM franchise to debut on the big screen -- proudly wears its heart on its sleeve. Yet it doesn't suffer from doing so, largely due to the obvious rapport of its talented cast, particularly Hudgens and Efron, who share an unmistakable chemistry (they're a couple in real life, too). And the music? It's as catchy as ever (standout tunes include the anthem-like "Now or Never," the sweet "Can I Have This Dance?" and a slowed-down, nostalgic "We're All in This Together"). The musical numbers are ambitious productions marked by exemplary choreography--the hallmark of a hit Disney feature. (We dare you not to tap your feet.)

Make no mistake: HSM 3 is cheesy. And the plot does have holes -- for starters, director Kenny Ortega's decision not to show prom at all, even though the ritual of asking dates is pumped up in the movie's first half. But it's a good kind of cheesy, the kind that gamely tugs at your heart and grows more adorable by the minute. HSM 3 proves that the franchise has the heft to make the leap from television to the big screen, and it does so with honors.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what makes high school graduation such an important rite of passage.

  • How are each of the characters approaching the end of an era?

  • What do you think of Troy's decision in the end? How have he and the other characters changed over the course of the three movies?

  • Families can also discuss how realistic the movie is when it comes to presenting teen life. Kids: Does the movie at all reflect your own experiences? How is it similar? Different?

  • Do you think people generally get an accurate or inaccurate view of teen life from the media?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 23, 2008
DVD release date:February 17, 2009
Cast:Ashley Tisdale, Vanessa Hudgens, Zac Efron
Director:Kenny Ortega
Studio:Walt Disney Pictures
Topics:Friendship, High school, Music and sing-along
Run time:109 minutes
MPAA rating:G

This review of High School Musical 3: Senior Year was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Parent of a 3 and 6 year old Written bykawilder March 24, 2010

I'll admit it...I like it too.

My daughter will love this over and over and over. It's her absolute favorite, and I don't mind watching along with her! Nor does her 3 year old brother - though he just watches the musical parts and tunes out the rest. The story is a little thin, but what do you really expect?! The music is, well, musical...it's fun, catchy. We get some pretty good conversations going about friendship and mean people (or people who do mean things, but aren't REALLY mean).
What other families should know
Too much sex
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 14 years old Written byalexster36 January 1, 2010


Real good for young kids but a snoozer for teens.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 14 years old Written bySilverSnake July 6, 2010

Too Over-Dramatic

Hey, I'm just glad its over! I think its silly how they make a basketball game look like a life or death situation and they sing so dramaticly... Its just silly. I guess some kids like it, thats ok, but I don't see how it made it to theaturs. The main characters know they're gorgious and just love to show it off. Gabrella is this so sappy, puppy dog face character that only personality is 'flirty and innocent'
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much consumerism


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?


What are the different ways that you access Common Sense Media ratings and information? (Check all that apply)

Essential Apps Guide