Sunday, January 21, 2007

High School Shitfest

I feel dirty.

It's generally accepted that films for children are rubbish. For years, adults have winced through endless crap animations and horrid musicals, with little or no chance of spotting a redeeming feature. In the last few years, however, the genre has taken a turn for the slightly-better, with a fair amount of sly-wink grownup humour among the greatly improved animations. Musicals, though? Pretty much still horrid. Which brings me neatly to the ninety-minute mind enema that is High School Musical.

This film is, in a word, Fucking Awful.

I'm not sure quite what I was expecting, but it wasn't this. Small Person has been banging on about it for weeks so I bowed to pester power and bought it yesterday. In my head, we would sit together and watch it and I might even like it, a bit. I had vague thoughts of Grease*, and The Sound of Music, and should really have known much, much better. It's a Disney Channel film, for a kickoff. And in the bland, corporate world of the Disney Channel, there's no such thing as a film without a Message. It made my brain hurt.

...As they reach for the stars and follow their dreams, everyone learns about acceptance, teamwork and being yourself.....

Yes. That's what we ALL learned. It was relentless. Seriously. The Hitler Youth would have been overjoyed if they could have got Disney on board for a spot of marketing work. It made me want to go out and kick mentally disadvantaged people, just to get the saccharin out of my psyche. The entire film was like that scene from Monty Python's Life of Brian, where the crowd are outside Brian's window shouting in synch "yes! we ARE all individuals!". I'm pretty sure that the cast members were branded with the Mickey Mouse symbol when they signed up. Hell, I'm pretty sure they were branded, lobotomised and made to listen to Phil Collins Disney soundtrack albums for the duration of filming. They were like shiny mannequins - a sort of Village of the Damned, if the Village of the Damned had a really good dentist. Brr.

There was nothing at all that I liked about this film. The acting was horrible. The miming in the song parts made me want to set my eyes on fire. The soundtrack was like drowning in custard with the Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears singing close-harmony acapella versions of Celine Dion albums in the background. The dancing was as spastic as you can get without needing a Statement of Special Education Needs. And don't even get me started on the plot.

I can only surmise that the writers spent the six months before starting the screenplay watching The Young and The Restless and Mary Poppins while ingesting large amounts of magic mushrooms. It had everything - the new girl in school, the troubled basketball player who had Deep Feelings about the new girl in school and was struggling with a nascent desire to perform lavish song-and dance numbers in front of his bewildered peer group, lots of hey-kids-let's-do-the-show-right-here cafeteria dancing, a spiteful blonde girl, a misunderstanding, a random plot device, clonky overuse of modern technology (text me your number...oh, here's my laptop.....oh! look! everyone's in detention for having a mobile phone in class!), a school/home/sports/doing the right thing conflict, a batty teacher, a strict teacher who was also basketball-playing-singing-falling-in-love boy's father (are you keeping up at the back?), and the inevitable ooh, we're all pulling together because the world is a fabulous, special place as long as we can all, you know, understand each other conclusion.

To sum up. Avoid. Really. I know it's for six year old girls who want to go to stage school and be Beyonce when they grow up. I know I'm not supposed to get it, or like it. But it made me feel like I'd boiled a puppy - guilty and more than a little bit sick.

* By the way, has anyone else been taken aback at how rude Grease is when you watch it as an adult? I'm not letting Small Person near it until she's at least ten.


Blogger Inexplicable DeVice chimed in with...

Lawks! I nearly didn't comment. The idea of being first here scared me somewhat. Not as much as that frightful musical, though. Urgh! The idea of youths putting across a message by the medium of a musical film makes me want to vomit in terror!

21 January, 2007 19:24  
Blogger Random Reflections chimed in with...

So... you weren't keen then?

21 January, 2007 19:51  
Blogger Billy chimed in with...

The picture scares me enough, but the decription... *shudder*

21 January, 2007 20:15  
Anonymous jk chimed in with...

I, too, was forced to sit through this film (blame my little sister), and the thing that struck me was that although the boy and girl were "in love", they never even kissed. I know its meant be shiny, smily, saccharine sweet Disney film, but seriously. Get real.

21 January, 2007 22:33  
Blogger Melissa chimed in with...

High School Musical was on my No list, but now it's on my Never Ever For the Love of God list. Thanks for the warning.

Grease is rude, isn't it? In quite a few parts. My mom wouldn't let me watch it when it came out, which was a torment. Pretty much everything would have gone over my naive little head and I'd only have been entranced with the singing and dancing. But she probably didn't want me skipping around the house singing, " ... the chicks will cream, for Greased Lightning ..."

22 January, 2007 04:58  
Blogger Fifi chimed in with...

Melissa, I wasn't allowed to go and see it either, even though ALL my friends were. I had to content myself with staring for hours and hours at the photos on the album sleeves as I listened to the songs, imagining what the film might be like. How sad! And yes, the rudie bits would have gone over my head as well, anyway. (Was anyone else totally obsessed with Olivia N-J's flicky hair by the way? As seen just in the photographs, of course)

I wasn't allowed to go and see Jaws, either.

22 January, 2007 09:38  
Blogger Murph chimed in with...

You should try the Theatre inside Pleasurewood Hills....

22 January, 2007 09:52  
Blogger Spinsterella chimed in with...

"the chicks'll cream" went right over my head.

But they all mock poor Sandy because she's a virgin, so they're clearly ALL at it. Filth!

Fun though. Better than this Disney monstrosity anyhow

22 January, 2007 11:37  
Blogger creepylesbo chimed in with...

I really liked it. As a US musical for kids, it's good. Maybe it's a generational thing. Maybe it reminded me of Teen Wolf. Something about it (possibly Lucas Grabeel) made me really enjoy it. And everytime it gets to the singing of Breaking Free I'm in floods of tears. Horses for courses, perhaps.

22 January, 2007 12:29  
Blogger LC chimed in with...

I've not seen it and never will, but I can confidently assert that the film would be greatly improved by the addition of a scene in which an angry young fat girl (who wasn't allowed to be in the school musical because of her terrifyingly vast arse) storms into a rehearsal and lays waste to the entire cast with a semi-automatic rifle, before urinating on their still-twitching corpses as she laughs maniacally. All to the sound of Marilyn Manson's 'The Beautiful People'.

22 January, 2007 13:57  
Anonymous Anonymous chimed in with...

There's a film here in the catalogue called 'Fucking Mary Poppin'.
I had assumed it was a porn flic.
But now I realise it might just be a podcast of a Surly Girl art criticism ;-)

22 January, 2007 18:28  
Blogger cuppa chimed in with...

Oh dear, I must apologise to you, I LIKE IT!! Have watched it the whole way through once, caught pieces of it about 4 times and I, ahem, know most of the soundtrack as eldest daughter has cd and plays it non-stop on cd player in her room and in the car. Came to the conclusion, if you can't beat them join them, and totally and utterly refuse to say the words 'this is just noise'.

As for Grease, nearly wet myself when I watched it with my daughters! Cannot believe MY parents let me watch it - freely - every day after school. Will remain in it's box on the shelf til they are both in their late teens!

22 January, 2007 19:31  
Blogger suburban wonder chimed in with...

You can put me in the Grease-deprived category. I was in 4th grade when it came out and was not allowed to see it. Most of the innuendo would've flown right over my head, though.

It is a bit rude. Funny, though.

23 January, 2007 02:47  
Blogger Kellycat chimed in with...

ALL Disney makes me shudder. I even have reservations about Justin Timberlake because of his origins.

I've gone and bloody posted something by the way. Don't expect another one until April...

23 January, 2007 18:57  
Blogger First Nations chimed in with...

My sincere sympathies, Surly. This is what I went through back when 'The Little Mermaid' came out.

My favorite musical is 'A Clockwork Orange'.

'I'm singin' in the rain...
just singin' in the rain...
what a glooooorious feelin'..
I'm smilin' agin..."

yeah. They don't make 'em like that anymore.

23 January, 2007 20:32  
Blogger Fussy Bitch chimed in with...

I cheated and bought Babygirl the book so I didn't have to put up with listening to it.

24 January, 2007 21:12  
Anonymous Patrick chimed in with...

Grease is dirty?
I'm going to put this one in there with visiting Liverpool and watching The Sound of Music - thinks I'll be glad I never did when I die.

25 January, 2007 21:48  
Anonymous Patrick chimed in with...

that should, of course, be things...

25 January, 2007 21:49  

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