Monday, May 12, 2008

The Kids Are Alright

Even if the weather isn't. Not only did it rain all day long, but it never got warmer than 50 degrees, and the wind was 50 miles an hour this morning. The wind had gentled considerably by the time I walked to the Oaklyn Library to return Ratatouille, but the rain continued. I got there an hour before the 2PM closing (they reopen again from 4-8 every night but Saturday) and took out three more DVDs I've been wanting to see - last year's big Disney animated film Meet the Robinsons, the buddy comedy Sideways, and High School Musical 2.

Since I'd already seen and liked the first High School Musical, I began with its sequel. This time the dance-loving students from East High School get summer jobs in a local country club, but the snotty daughter of the club's owner isn't thrilled. She'd rather have the student's leader on her arm...and the other kids out of the club's talent show she always wins. What she doesn't realize is she's pushing away her ever-loyal brother while trying to charm the lead basketball hero, and her brother finally turns to the other kids to fight back, HIS way.

I think I liked this one better than the first. It's the choreography that wins the day here. The high-octane numbers are even more fun (including the amazing opener as school ends and the kids' number in the kitchen) and the film just pulses with their energy. Gorgeous New Mexico cinematography is a big help too, making the whole film look like a Technicolor 50s flick. And I repeat what I said when I reviewed the first film. I'm really happy to see real kids in this (and in last year's Hairspray). It really brings a layer of authenticity to the rather thin proceedings that no adults pretending to be kids ever could.

There are, however, still quite a few problems. The numbers are at their best when showing off groups, ensembles, or duos. The solo ballad and dance number are excruciatingly bad. The basketball player's solo dance is silly and out-of-place, despite some nice camera-work and the beautiful scenery, and his girlfriend had far less to do the second time around besides one bad ballad. And while I'm sure it was intentional, whoever designed the diva girl's awful costumes should have been shot. She was probably supposed to look outrageous, given her bratty behavior, but her campy costumes were just a bit too much.

I didn't catch names, but special kudos to the boy who played the diva's brother and to the sweet girl who played the piano player. The boy really is an amazing dancer - check out the baseball number! - and the pianist is a real doll.

I tried to call Dad for a ride to work as High School Musical 2 ran, but my phone wasn't working. All I was getting was this weird buzzing sound, or occasionally nothing at all. I tried calling him three times, but got nothing. I finally made my way over to Dad's to ask for a ride. Uncle Ken ended up taking me, and Jodie drove me home. I barely made it on time, but it scarcely mattered. Work was (surprisingly, given the weather) steady for most of the afternoon, with for once, an overabundance of help.

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