This article was written exclusively for The Film Magazine by Emma Kershaw.
The High School Musical franchise was the pinnacle of many a millennial’s tween years. When the Disney Channel released the first movie back in 2006, a legion of dedicated fans catapulted the movie into global success almost instantly, earning Disney over $100 million from DVD sales alone. Two sequels and a host of spin-offs followed in quick succession, and in late 2019, over a decade later, Disney+ released High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, putting the beloved Wildcats and co. back at the forefronts of our minds.
The three original movies, which were a stepping stone for many of the actors who starred in the franchise, are arguably as popular as they were back in the noughties. Just recently, Ashley Tisdale (Sharpay Evans), posted a video on popular social networking site TikTok performing the original choreography to “We’re All In This Together”, prompting other members of the cast to join in, creating an unofficial virtual reunion that went viral.
Once a Wildcat, always a Wildcat… but there can only be one “best movie from the original trilogy”.
That’s why we’re ranking the High School Musical trilogy in terms of quality and public perception in this special edition of Ranked.
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3. High School Musical 2 (2007)
The second instalment of the High School Musical trilogy unfortunately fell a little short, placing at number 3 on our leaderboard. By no means does this mean it’s bad – it’s still a great tween movie – it just doesn’t live up to the standards of the other two.
The story line is a bit all over the place and although everything is to be taken with a pinch of salt, once you rewatch this film as a fully-grown adult, you will definitely find yourself questioning certain parts.
Set in a country club owned by Sharpay and Ryan’s super-rich parents, Sharpay convinces them to hire Troy Bolton for the summer break. Not even 24 hours after being employed, Troy successfully manages to persuade the club’s manager to hire all of his friends. Next thing you know, they’re in the kitchen complaining about having to do their jobs. The complaining is, of course, done by means of song (“Work This Out”).
They didn’t have to go through a formal interview process to land these positions in the first place so it’s very ungrateful of them to be complaining when they were handed these jobs, no questions asked. Additionally, there’s a sense of entitlement as the gang sing about how washing dishes and waitering places them at the “bottom of the heap”.
Later in the movie, during a baseball game, Chad and Ryan can be seen singing a song about how they don’t dance, while performing a four-minute long fully choreographed routine (“I Don’t Dance”).
One of the standout musical numbers was Troy’s iconic solo “Bet On It”, in which he can be seen dramatically splashing water and grabbing the air on a golf course. This song is one of the best in the whole of the trilogy, and lyrically it was quite inspiring as a tween.
After quite a bit of teen melodrama revolving around Sharpay’s lust for Troy, namely the argument between Gabriella and Sharpay which ultimately leads into Gabriella and Troy’s ballad “Gotta Go My Own Way”, the movies ends the only way a Disney movie could – happily – with the club’s annual musical that brings everyone back together, the emotional “Everyday” musical number signalling the end of the teens’ summer break.
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