Many families right now find themselves at a very happy crossroads. The book has closed on yet another school year, and the start of summer vacation is just within reach. It’s definitely a time for celebration and one that just may even bring about the sudden, undeniable urge to break out into a well-synchronized, perfectly choreographed song and dance number. If this accurately describes the way you’re feeling right about now, then I have got a most befitting family movie night recommendation for you. We are, of course, referring to High School Musical 2, sometimes alternately known as High School Musical 2: School’s Out!
Taking the familiar high school friends, you first met in the original film out of the classroom and placing them in a fresh new summer setting helps to retain all the familiar favorability featured in the previous film while also providing for a brand-new venture, loaded with even catchier songs and more impressive dance moves. So, once you come out of the sun for the day, take the evening to unwind as a family by streaming this ultimate movie musical on Disney+.
Released back in 2007, this second installment in Disney’s High School Musical franchise continues with the preceding plot set in place by the first film a year earlier, all while delivering on a fresh new summertime spin. The summer break has, at last, arrived at East High, offering up a much-needed respite from a very eventful school year for all the key players from the first film. But summer is no time to be idle—especially when you are a broke teenager who desperately needs money in order to do all the fun things you want to do. And that means getting a job—something just about everyone from school is actively searching for, with the exception of two spoiled rich kids—the egotistical drama queen Sharpay Evans and her puppet of a brother Ryan. They have plans to spend the summer at their family-owned country club in Albuquerque.
What’s more, Sharpay has the perfect plan for sweetening the deal even more—pulling a few strings and getting her crush, basketball team captain Troy Bolton, a job working at the club. But things get a little off-kilter when Troy also manages to get a couple of fellow classmates and friends hired with him. And that, of course, includes his girlfriend, Gabriella. As Troy and Gabriella look ahead to spending the summer working together, Sharpay conspires against them every step of the way, stopping at nothing to keep them apart, including getting Troy multiple promotions to move him up into a more elite standing.
One of the hallmarks of this film and all others included within the High School Musical movie franchise is the excellent choreography at work in bringing together all those perfectly synchronized songs and dance numbers. The mastermind behind it all is none other than director and renowned choreographer Kenny Ortega, who also worked on such hits as Dirty Dancing, Newsies, and several others.
Movie musicals, in general, have been proven successful countless times throughout the history of film and entertainment. And as demonstrated in this film, they continue to dominate by appealing to viewers of all ages. Because there are many older adults who grew up loving live-action musical classics and those set in particular high school settings—like Grease, for instance—the High School Musical franchise truly does something remarkable in bridging the generational gap between various members of the family. This makes it a mutually enjoyable watch that everyone can have a lot of fun with.
A Before-They-Were-Stars Ensemble
Another fun part about watching the High School Musical films is that you get to see many big-name celebrities before they make it big. All three films star Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens in the lead roles as Troy Bolton and Gabriella Montez. Actor Corbin Bleu also plays a major supporting role as Chad Danforth, the basketball “bro” and best friend to Troy. Then there’s singer/actress Ashley Tisdale putting on airs in the role of the spoiled, albeit fan-favorite diva—Sharpay Evans. A number of other talented actors and actresses also make up a versatile ensemble, including Lucas Grabeel as Sharpay’s brother Ryan Evans and Monique Coleman as Taylor McKessie. It’s also worth mentioning that Miley Cyrus, another known celebrity who got her start on the Disney Channel, makes a cameo appearance as a girl by the pool in High School Musical 2.
A Disney Trendsetter
When the first High School Musical premiered on the Disney Channel back in 2006, it was not only a way to reprise the glory days of past live-action musicals; it was also a means for trying out something completely new. Disney took a chance in creating what was to be a Disney Channel Original Movie Musical, in the truest sense, at a time when such movies just weren’t being made. And amazingly enough, it soared in popularity to become the next big thing. This, of course, spawned an immediate sequel, which premiered on the Disney Channel the following year. But with its continued trending growth came the third film—High School Musical 3: Senior Year in 2008. By then, the established High School Musical franchise had already outgrown the Disney Channel, moving on to even bigger ambitions in the way of a theatrical film release.
All the same, the initial popularity brought on by the High School Musical brand paved the way for other Disney Channel Original Movie Musicals that have since followed suit. With such a skyrocketing high demand for other similar works came a whole new batch of Disney Musicals keeping up with the trend that continues going strong to this day.
A Trend That Keeps Going Strong
While the High School Musical franchise ignited the spark for Disney Movie Musicals to become the next big thing, it’s also worth noting that after 16 years, the High School Musical franchise specifically is still as popular as it ever was. Not only do all three of the original films continue to stream big time on Disney+, but the eternalized popularity of the brand even led to the making of an all-new Disney+ series that came out in 2019—High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. And with all that, it’s safe to say that the lasting legacy of the High School Musical brand continues to make the grade as a timeless Disney cult classic.
While High School Musical 2 makes for the most seasonally compatible recommendation to watch this weekend, you can maximize your musical delights even further by binging with an all-out movie marathon with all three High School Musical films as well as notable other recommendations. In keeping things specific to summer, two other suggestions include the Camp Rock and Teen Beach Movie franchises. However you decide to do this week’s family movie night, whether solo or as a marathon, either way, is great way to get schooled in both summertime fun and the merriment movie musicals.