#DisneyWeek: Does High School Musical 3 Stand the Test of Time?

Finals time is here, which means I am stressed and overworked. So when thinking about writing an article for our #DisneyWeek, I just wanted to watch some good old Disney Channel nostalgia. When I think of DCOMs (Disney Channel Original Movies), my mind immediately goes to High School Musical.

High School Musical premiered on Jan. 20, 2006. I was merely six years old, but my life was forever changed. I remember watching the premiere and basically crying when Gabriella sang, "When There Was Me and You". The next year, Disney Channel and Kenny Ortega (the director and choreographer) stepped up their game with the premiere of High Shcool Musical 2 on Aug. 17, 2007. I really didn't think it could get any better. "Bet On It"? Iconic.

Then it was announced that the last movie, High School Musical 3, was going to premiere in theaters. My little child brain was exploding. And in October of 2008, you know I was there, opening week, watching High School Musical 3. When I later got an iPod nano (those were the days), the first song I bought was "The Boys Are Back" from the movie. Throughout the years, I have re-watched the first two movies so many times, either over the summers with my best friend, making fun and having a blast, or on a whim. But High School Musical 3? I've only watched two times, tops. So for this post, I wanted to revisit a movie that I loved, back in the day, but don't remember that much.

I queued up Netflix and began watching High School Musical 3. I'm not joking when I write: I really liked the movie. Not even ironically! Like, High School Musical 3 is actually good. Of course, I do have my bias as a huge fan. It's all the same characters, and there are many callbacks to the first two movies, which I loved. However, the feel of this third and final movie is completely different. This is in large part because of the production budget for HSM3. According to Box Office Mojo, the production budget for the movie was $11 million (Source). I couldn't find any information about how much Disney spends on their television movies, but HSM3 looked so much more professional. They had multiple sets built - even a rotating one for Troy's solo song "Scream" - and the film quality was better.

Besides the production value, which I was constantly stunned by, the plot itself is compelling. If you don't remember, HSM3 follows all our favorite characters - Troy, Gabriella, Chad, Taylor, Sharpay, Ryan, Kelsi, etc. - during their senior year of high school. The movie opens with the state championship basketball game and then focuses on the spring musical, prom and, most importantly, college acceptances and their future. Our faves are leaving high school, and the prospect of moving on and going to college is looming. Troy is having a hard time deciding which passion he should pursue: basketball or theatre. Along with that pressure, his and Gabriella's relationship is in danger, as she was accepted early into Stanford, which is more than 1,000 miles from U of A, the university Troy always thought he'd attend. Even though it's been a couple of years since I have been in high school, I still really related to the movie. I think we're always trying to figure out what's next, and we're worried everything isn't going to work. The movie also reminded me of how much I've grown since high school, and how I'm much more sure of my future and myself, now that I'm at UNC.

As for the characters, High School Musical 3 fleshes out Troy's character a lot. Don't be fooled, while all your favorites are in the movie, this is Troy's movie. The first two movies were so focused on Troy and Gabriella's relationship, but this is more focused on growing up and finding your place. In the first two movies, Troy battles between his two passions: basketball and theatre. Seeing this conflict teased out in HSM3 made him so much more complex. I do wish that the other characters were fleshed out as well, but Troy really stood out to me. If you see me writing "Troy Bolton <3" in my notebooks as I did 10+ years ago, you know why.

Last, but not least, we need to talk about the music!!! I cannot stop listening. There are love songs, like "Right Here, Right Now," "Just Wanna Be With You" and "Can I Have This Dance," that really got to me. Am I in love with Troy all over again? Yes, yes I am. We got the classic sad song sung by Gabriella, "Walk Away," which gets me every time. Honestly, they are all bops. While some of the songs in the first two movies fall short outside of the movie, the music is so strong. I'm actually listening to the soundtrack as I write this article, it's that good!

Overall, High School Musical 3 is actually really good. I don't know if viewers who weren't fans of the first two movies (or have at least seen them a couple of times) would appreciate the movie as much as I did, but watching HSM3 on the Saturday morning after LDOC was a perfect way to spend my day. And I can't believe I'm saying this, but I think High School Musical 3 might usurp the first sequel as my favorite in the trilogy. Nine-year-old me is reeling, but 19-year-old me has a newfound appreciation for the final High School Musical movie. Image result for high school musical 3 I'll end with some lyrics from the final song of the movie, aptly titled "High School Musical".

High School Musical. Who says we have to let it go?