High School Musical 4: Breaking Free From Disney

Revivals of TV shows and movies you loved years ago seems to be the trend of late, like the new version of the superhero genre or forensic procedural that had a surge of shows in years past. And now here’s a little something for the millennials – a movie that just celebrated its 10th anniversary is getting a fourth sequel. Disney head honchos recently announced they are making High School Musical 4, with a whole new batch of aspiring actors just like Disney is wont to do. To tie the new installment in with the beloved OG franchise, one of the main characters is named Campbell and described as “Troy Bolton 2.0” in the character breakdown. Instead of the basketball court, he’s the captain of the soccer team and also a theater star, which runs in his family because guess what – he’s Sharpay and Ryan Evans’ cousin.

My guess is that these two are at least in for a cameo in the fourth movie, since they have reason to be back. But what are they, and the rest of the Wildcats doing eight years after graduating high school? Is Taylor McKessie running the world? Did Chad become a sports star? Has Ryan come out yet? Are Troy and Gabriella still together, fulfilling every shipper’s dream of Zanessa being alive and well in an alternate universe? Most importantly, is HSM4 going to be in the theatres likes HSM3 and I’ll have to go to a late night showing by myself so I don’t see it with other kids or will it air like a DCOM and on the Disney Channel? Will it be on the Disney Channel at all?? (Probably yes). But what if it wasn’t? And what if it actually caught up with the original cast instead of introducing new characters? An adult HSM, if you will. I’m taking a giant leap from reality and exploring not only what the Class of ’08 is doing today, but what they could be doing if they weren’t on DisChan but rather on some of today’s biggest networks. Who knows, anything could happen. This is the golden age of television, after all. You can’t stick to the status quo for everything.

The Disney Channel Version

After graduating from the University of Albuquerque with a degree in the performing arts, Sharpay moved to New York and lived with Ryan while she went on audition after audition to be on Broadway. She was in a few Off-Broadway shows including an ensemble cast member in a new version of Rent (waitress during La Vie Boheme). After two years of working retail at Forever 21 and no getting any luck with her Broadway dreams, she moved back to Albuquerque and works at East High rival West High as the drama teacher. Ryan graduated from Juliard, where he wrote songs with Kelsi, and they created their own duo of Evans & Nielsen. Together they’re Broadway’s next Kander and Ebb and are making waves on the Broadway underground. Meanwhile, Chad also graduated from U of A with Sharpay and was drafted for the Brooklyn Nets straight out of college. He moved from team to team but currently plays for the Phoenix Suns. Taylor graduated from Yale with a degree in political science, then went to Georgetown to get her graduate degree in economics. She’s just got a job in Washington D.C. working as a White House staffer. Troy and Gabriella stayed together throughout college, and he got a job in finance after graduating while Gabriella continued her studies on the way to become a doctor. She’s currently doing her residency in San Francisco, where they both live, and Troy is planning to propose to her, but he enlists the help of the Wildcats to help him pull off an epic proposal.

The CBS Version

Gabriella is a forensic scientist working in Chicago, when she gets a call from Connecticut Senator Taylor McKessie who heard through the grapevine that their East High classmate Zeke is missing. Sharpay, Troy and Chad have been secretly trying to get to the bottom of his disappearance, but they fear the worst and believe he’s been killed. Taylor urges Gabriella to go back to Albuquerque to help them, and a reluctant Gabriella heads home – but uneasy about not only Zeke’s possible death, but facing Troy again after their horrible break-up in 2013.

The Logo Version

Since Kelsi and Ryan attended Julliard together, they became best friends and eventually both came out as gay (much to the surprise to no one). They live together in Chelsea and are like a modern day Will & Grace except they’re both gay and live in a much more ramshackled apartment. Kelsi makes a living as a pianist in various orchestra pits on and off Broadway, while Ryan teaches youth theatre in New Jersey. They both lament about their love lives (or non-existent ones) constantly and are frequently visited by Sharpay, a celebrity stylist, and Martha, who owns her own dance studio in Brooklyn. Token straight couple Troy and Gabriella are married and have a baby on the way, which is a bit of an annoyance to Kelsi and Ryan, who are convinced Troy and Gabriella are going to become the most obnoxious parents and won’t ever have time to hang out with them again.

The Bravo Version

Sharpay lands a role as a stepsister in the Cinderella revival, but after the show closes, she lets the ego get to her head, and hasn’t booked a role in over a year. She’s been married to famed New York chef/restauranteur Zeke for two years and is simultaneously going on audition after audition while also building her new clothing company, while specifically caters to divorcees who have a penchant for glitter and bedazzled dresses. The movie is filmed reality TV style and features cameos from her gay brother Ryan, married couple Taylor and Chad and fighting exes Troy and Gabriella, who live in Long Island.

The Freeform Version

Like the Disney Channel version, but more sex and targeted to “becomers”. Special appearance by Ashley Benson and Shay Mitchell as Gabriella’s roommates in Manhattan.

The Netflix Version

Broken up into 6 hour and a half long episodes, each installment focuses on one of the main characters in the HSM franchise. Shot documentary style, we get a close look at Taylor’s journey on the campaign trail with Hillary Clinton, Chad’s new sober life after overcoming an addiction to painkillers, Sharpay and Ryan’s life in London as they debut their new musical in the West End, Gabriella’s work as a biochemical engineer working to create a cure for cancer, and Troy’s unexpected rise to stardom after starring in an indie film that was nominated for an Oscar, becoming Hollywood’s next big star.

The AMC Version

Basically Breaking Bad, but Ryan is Walter White and Kelsi is Jesse Pinkman. Taylor is Gale, Gabriella is Skyler, Troy is Mike and Sharpay is Badger.

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High School Musical: 10th Anniversary Rewatch

On January 20th 2006, High School Musical was released to the delight of millions of tweens and also some 19-year olds (us, at the time). It’s hard to believe that it’s been 10 years, but we’re all in this together. A whole decade has passed since back when there was me and you, watching a musical Disney Channel Original Movie that we were far too old for. I didn’t see HSM until several months after it came out because I was studying abroad that semester, but when I came home and spent the summer working with elementary school kids who wouldn’t stop talking about it, I realized that Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens and the gang were just what I’ve been looking for. (By the way: those elementary school kids I was old enough to be in charge of must be in their late teens to early 20s now; yikes; ouch).

This post is not the start of something new. Rather than breaking free from our typical format, we have chosen to stick to the status quo. Here’s a live blog of my tenth-anniversary rewatch of High School Musical, so queue it up on Netflix and getch’a head in the game, because we’re about to bop to the top.

1:00 Character establishment: Gabriella is a goody-goody because her mother has to draw her away from her book to attend a Teen Party, which is one of those alcohol-free, drug-free highly-supervised youth events that youths don’t really go to.

WHOLESOME AF.

Troy is playing basketball and has proto-Bieber hair. This is all you need to know about either of them for the rest of the movie.

Also, it’s New Year’s Eve. They’re at a winter version of the resort from Dirty Dancing.

02:35 Am I am old lady who misses her glory days of 2006, or do Troy and Gabriella’s outfits look (dated but) cute? Troy’s panicked face as he sings karaoke looks like when that girl (Bethany Byrd?) starts singing along to Jingle Bell Rock after the music cuts out in Mean Girls.

07:30 Troy and Gabs exchange numbers on phones the size of Pop Tarts.

10:27 Do kids even still get in trouble for having cell phones in class? When we were in high school they were strictly verboten, and when someone’s would go off in class everyone would start coughing and shuffling stuff loudly so they could turn it off, which in retrospect was a really touching show of solidarity.

By the way, Gabriella transferred. To TROY’S SCHOOL IN ALBUQUERQUE.

I have thought that 2 or 3 different extras were Kristen Bell but it’s just that everyone in 2006 looked like Veronica Mars.

10:50 You can tell the drama teacher’s a drama teacher because she’s wearing a flowy printed top and chunky jewelry.

 

12:30 Troy Bolton’s Hair, 2006 = Early Louis Tomlinson Hair + Early Liam Payne Hair, 2010. That ‘do had staying power, for better or worse.

Little Babies XOXOXO

 

14:42 Get’cha Head In The Game: I love basketball when there’s pretty, overly-groomed young men singing pop music to me during it.

I forgot that it was styled “get’cha” until I looked it up.

18:15 Sharpay’s outfits are like a teenaged Mindy Lahiri, had she been a teen in ’06.

 

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19:13 I used to think flared jeans were so flattering, but based on the East High extras, they were NOT.

20:20 So much hair gel on this b-ball team.

23:31 Did you all know Monique Coleman (Taylor) was 25 when this came out?

25:00 Drink whenever Ms. Darbus says “musicale”

27:50 Do we ever get an explanation why that one girl auditioning has clusters of fake freckles painted onto her cheeks? Frustrated Annie reject?

Most of my goodwill toward 2006 fashion is gone now. SO many awkward-length skirts cutting people off at the wrong spot.

30:00 Oh, the awful pop-punk outfit on the girl doing interpretive dance during the audition.

32:00 I can’t remember the last time I saw HSM, but it must have been ages because I forgot about Ryan Evans , beacon of light, best thing in this movie, he of the lime-green bedazzled newsboy cap, teen version of Derek from Full House, most plausible theatre kid in all of East High.

I SHIP IT.

37:00 OK but did Troy start ALL of his songs making a face like Bethany from Mean Girls?

Kelsi is very Early Ellen Page meets season 1 Rory Gilmore.

39:00 Now that I’m a sophisticated 29-year-old adult instead of a scrappy, wide-eyed 19-year old, it’s all about the Ryan-Sharpay friendship. Troy & Gabriella are kid stuff.

Do you think there was a whole room in wardrobe just for all these damn newsboy caps?

“They’re going to do it!” I said, out loud, to myself, as a grown woman, in the house that I bought, because they’re about to sing Stick To The Status Quo.

Wasn’t there an interstitial or something going behind the scenes of Stick To The Status Quo on Disney Channel back then? Or a pop up video kind of thing? Maybe it was of the whole movie?

The “skater” clique looks especially mid-2000s.

Stick To The Status Quo is a musical version of the show Made that aired on MTV during this era.

48:00 Troy tells Gabriella that his parents’ friends are always saying “your son’s the basketball guy. You must be so proud,” which seems like a weird thing to say, but what do I know?

39:00 I don’t remember doing things outside of your clique being such a big deal in high school. We’d get annoyed if a non-theatre kid randomly auditioned and landed a good role, but that was just because we felt like they hadn’t ~earned it or whatever.

54:00 It’s gotten to where when I look at Troy Bolton (OK, Baby Zac Efron) ALL I can see is Baby One Direction.

1:00:00 Chad is guilt-tripping Troy worse than an Irish-Catholic mother (or a Jewish mother, both are great at guilt). I assume Chad-Troy ships are a thing on parts of the internet?

1:03 Honestly, Gab, there never really WAS a you and Troy, was there?

1:10 Obviously not all houses in New Mexico are made of adobe with Spanish tile roofs or whatever, but Gabriella’s house looks super northeast-y.

1:11 It’s kind of like every time he begins singing, Troy THOUGHT he was going to be talking instead but it came out as song.

1:13 Hat watch: Now Prince Ryan has a flat cap and Kelsi has a bucket hat and Sharpay has a gilded tam o’shanter. This was the beginning of the era of Disney programming being all wacky patterns and colors in the wardrobe and set design. Even in the Lizzie McGuire/Even Stevens age, things were a little more toned-down.

All of these shows aired when I was well past childhood, yes.

Definitely forgot Ryan and Sharpay were siblings.

1:18 Adults Against Troy And Troy’s Dad’s Weird Over-Enmeshed Relationship. Meeting tonight and every night on Netflix.

1:25 Another thing I forgot: this would more accurately be called High School Musical Auditions And Scheduling Conflicts.

1:26 Jeez Louise. Hat watch: Kelsi has a bowler hat now. If this movie went on much longer they’d have her in one of those Dr. Seuss hats or a beanie with a propeller.

If you were maybe the kind of person who felt they were too old for High School Musical in 2006, I can’t overstate what a game-changer it was for the Disney Channel. You can stop laughing, I’ll wait. The mid-2000s Disney Industrial Complex was HUGE and when you look at the people who came out of it – Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens, but also Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, the JONAS FREAKING BROTHERS – you realize they had some real geniuses working in development. The turnaround definitely started in the early 2000s with Hilary Duff, Ravyn-Symone and co. and just kept shooting upwards. After the early 90s Mickey Mouse Club era, it was pretty blah for a long stretch. Yes, I just sang the praises of mid-2000s Disney and I could keep going.

1:30 I was never that into Breaking Free though? But it was probably the biggest hit from HSM.

1:32 Love when musicals end with a dance jam, like the pep rally/ basketball game-turned singalong, We’re All In This Together.

Love Is Dead: A Look At Our Obsession With Celebrity Couples

Yesterday, we got confirmation of the rumor we hoped wasn’t true – after almost exactly 10 years of marriage, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner, aka Bennifer 2.0, announced they are getting a divorce. They had been dodging gossip for a while, but like any good American, we denied it was happening until it was slapping us across the face and posing as an actual problem.

Celebrity relationships have always been fascinating to me/the world, and in more recent years, specifically the psychology of why we, as a culture, are so obsessed with celebrity couples. Is it because they are the seemingly ideal, picture perfect, couple where nothing could possibly be wrong? Yes. Is it what our own #relationshipgoals aim to be? Yes. But despite all of that, why does it always feel like we are the ones ‘dying’ when it has absolutely nothing to do with us?

Today I’m looking back at some of the celebrity breakups that shook us to the core, proclaiming in all caps that LOVE IS DEAD and ‘IF THEY CAN’T MAKE IT, WHO CAN?’ to all of the Internet.

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner

BAEs for: 10 years of marriage

RIP: June 30th, 2015 (One day after their 10th anniversary)

OTP Moment(s): The moment when Jen fell in love with Ben, last year’s ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Why are we upset: Ben & Jen were like the All-American couple with the three cute kids, who were Hollywood enough that made them unattainable, but had a certain level of relatability. When they first met, he was engaged to another Jennifer, but ultimately, as we know, Jen G. won his heart in the end. Or not, I guess.

Over It Meter:  It just happened, so it’ll take me a while –

5 out of 5 Notebook Rain Kisses

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Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston

BAEs for: 5 years of marriage

RIP: January 2005

OTP Moment(s): The One With Brad On Friends, any time either of them were on Oprah, that super secret wedding, all their red carpet moments

Why are we upset: Jennifer is and was the beloved star from Friends, and he was the hottest Hollywood hunk that made them the golden couple of the early 2000s. They were a couple everyone was rooting for, so when they split, it was as if an actual person had died from their break-up. Not to mention, it all went down as Brad and Angelina’s onscreen chemistry was palpable in Mr. & Mrs. Smith, leading many to cast Angie as the villain in the scenario and tabloids STILL try to Pitt (pun intended) these women against each other. But the one thing we’ve learned from all of this: we just all want to see Jennifer Aniston happy.

Over It Meter: It’s been 10 years. We’re still a little hurt.

4 out of 5 Notebook Rain Kisses

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Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens

BAEs for: 3 years of dating

RIP: 2010

OTP Moment(s): All the High School Musicals, when they were on the beach, Vanessa’s Say OK video, the last time they walked a red carpet together

Why are we upset: I was in college when the first High School Musical came out, and I’m not ashamed to say I loved it. And I totally stanned for Troy/Gabriella, but more so Zac/Vanessa. I thought they were going to be together forever, TBH. I was Zanessa for life. Then they broke up, and I broke up too. It was sad, and if they ever get together again in the future I WILL NOT BE SURPRISED.

Over It Meter:  Like I said, it won’t surprise me if they fall back in love when they’re 35.

4 out of 5 Notebook Rain Kisses

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Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears

BAEs for: 3 years of dating (why does it seem like so much longer than that?)

RIP: 2002

OTP Moment(s):  Mickey Mouse Club duets, all the denim, Justin surprising a (genuinely shocked) Brit on an MTV special, accepting the Teen Choice Award for Choice Hotties, this whole photo shoot

Why are we upset: I am a Backstreet Boys fan, but also a Britney fan, so when she started dating Justin, I was at a *Crossroads*. Luckily, this was around the time JT was about to do his own thing, so my love for him as a solo artist grew from there, but my love for them as a couple was unquantifiable.They were the prince and princess of pop music, and their coupledom is hard to beat. When they abruptly broke up (What Goes Around Comes Around), not only was it the first celeb breakup (in my lifetime) that was devastating, but it was the first time I thought ~*tRuE LoVe*~ really didn’t exist.

Over It Meter:  Both JT and Brit have clearly moved on, so we should too. But they get 2 rain GIFs only because they were iconic.

2 out of 5 Notebook Rain Kisses

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Ryan Phillippe and Reese Witherspoon

BAEs for: 7 years of marriage

RIP: 2006

OTP Moment(s):  Cruel Intentions

Why are we upset: Cruel Intentions was one of the best cult movies of our generation. I remember secretly going to see it with my friend, whose dad bought the tickets for us because it was rated R and we weren’t 17 yet. I think I told my parents I was going to see Robin Williams’ What Dreams May Come. Anyways, Reese and Ryan were like the younger version of Jen and Brad, and we were rooting for them because their onscreen love was real offscreen too.

Over It Meter:  The best part about them as a couple is their two adorable kids, including Reese’s doppelganger Ava. It’s clear they were just really young when they got married, and Reese has another cute kid with her hubs while Ryan has another kid with the girl from Pitch Perfect.

1 out of 5 Notebook Rain Kisses

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Taye Diggs and Idina Menzel

BAEs for: 10 years of marriage

RIP: 2014

OTP Moment(s):  All of Rent, when he played Fiyero to her Elphaba, just any time they sing together, the time I saw her in concert and I’m pretty sure she was a little tipsy and verrryyy horny for Taye, any time they hang with their cute kid Walker

Why are we upset: This is so cliche, but Rent is one of my all-time favorite musicals, and I spent a lot of my youth listening to the OBC (Original Broadway Cast, for you non-nerds) soundtrack. When I found out that these two met, fell in love, and got married all because of the show, it made me love them even more. I was working when the news of their divorce dropped, and I had to compose my emotions for a few minutes before writing it up because I was THAT emotionally attached to these idiots.

Over It Meter: I. STILL. SHIP. IT.

5 out of 5 Notebook Rain Kisses
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Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams

BAEs for: 3-ish years dating

RIP: 2008

OTP Moment(s):  All of The Notebook, The Notebook audition video, and the ultimate OTP vid: The 2005 MTV Movie Awards Best Kiss acceptance speech

Why are we upset: Obviously The Notebook is considered one of the best romantic films in recent history, and the onscreen/offscreen love story between Ryan and Rachel just made it that much better. We’re gonna dismiss the fact they may not have gotten along on set and just remember that they made an amazing couple. But that Best Kiss tho.

Over It Meter:  This would be 5, except he has a baby with Eva Mendes now, so I guess that trumps this reunion.

4 out of 5 Notebook Rain Kisses

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Will Arnett and Amy Poehler

BAEs for: 9 years of marriage

RIP: 2012

OTP Moment(s):  Blades of Glory, Parks and Rec, Arrested Development, this Gap ad, their “Double A Batteries”, general red carpet merriment

Why are we upset: Oh man. This one hurt. This one hurt real bad. If you’re new to our blog, Amy is deity around here, and just one of the many reasons we love her so much is because, as you know, she’s funny. Will is equally hilarious and can actually keep up with Poehler in the comedy department (watch that Blades of Glory clip). They were up there with like, Stiller and Meara or Lucy and Desi (I just picked refs for 70 year olds). When they announced their separation, I was much like those Twitter users, declaring LOVE IS DEAD. But in the end, like Jennifer Aniston before her, we just want Amy to be happy.

Over It Meter: Amy started dating Nick Kroll about a year after separating from Will, and at the time, I thought it was a downgrade, but I’ve really come to like their relationship, and where she’s at in her life in general – with or without a man. So she and Will get:

3 out of 5 Notebook Rain Kisses

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Movies I Actually Paid To See In the Theater: Part 2 – No Shame

Welcome to the conclusion of this mini-series, in which I reveal the movies I paid to see in the theaters. This second list is comprised of films that most would be embarrassed to say they even saw, none the less exchanged money in order to see it, but I am owning up to the fact that I enjoyed every single one.

The Lizzie McGuire Movie

I may have been a Junior in high school when this movie came out. I may have watched the series on DisChan and seen every episode. I may have dressed up as Miranda to my friend Sarah’s Lizzie for a Halloween party at my church. So sue me. This movie was the perfect way to end the series, and was satisfying on all ends. A trip to Italy, mistaken identity, and the epic kiss between Lizzie and Gordo that made my 17 year old self swoon. This IS what dreams are made of.

A Walk to Remember

I think this was the first Nicholas Sparks movie that started a wave of his depressing yet uplifting love stories, and it certainly still ranks as one of  my favorites. I mainly went to see it for Mandy Moore, not expecting much out of it, and not knowing what was going to happen. Little did I know that I was totally sucked in, and became obsessed with it. I played the soundtrack on repeat, and probably ruined my VHS tape because I watched it so many times. And I will no doubt watch it when it’s on TV.

Spice World

This is the absolute definition of the best worst movie ever. It was utterly ridiculous, but amazing at the same time. I remember sitting in the back row of the theater with my friends and there being probably like 2 to 4 other people there. We had a great time, and were probably obnoxious, but hey, it’s hard to not sing along to the Spice Girls when you’re 12 years old.

Hannah Montana The Movie

Not to be confused with the Hannah Montana concert movie in 3D (which I also saw. ugh what is my life), this movie is the character of Hannah Montana/Miley Stewart going back home to Tennessee and living a life away from Hollywood. My friend Brian and I saw this because we were/are big fans of the show and Miles herself. And while it was a good movie, we had a lot of questions. Which made us think that maybe we weren’t the right target demographic to be seeing the film and asking about continuity (i.e. SPOILER ALERT: Miley decides to tell her entire small town in TN that she’s living a double life at the end of the movie, but back on TV for the regular episodes, they make no mention of her big reveal at all. Like, you’re telling me every single citizen kept their mouth shut about one of the biggest pop stars in the world? Come on folks).

High School Musical 3

Disney Channel has clearly made an impact on my movie going habits. I was of course a fan of the first two movies, but those were only shown on TV. HSM3 was the first (and last) to be shown on the big screen, so naturally I had to go. Again, I went with Brian, and our bossfriend Rosita to a 10am screening the day it came out. We were joined by moms and their kids, but it was well worth it. Zanessa (RIP) was in full effect, and the songs were as catchy as ever. A great way to end the franchise and a great way to confirm my taste in movie is usually questionable.

Katy Perry: A Part of Me

I admit it, I have absolutely have no problem in saying I like Katy Perry. Teenage Dream is one of the best pop albums ever made. More than half of the tracks on that cd are among my 25 most played songs. In saying that, I knew I had to watch her movie. So I did. I went by myself on a Friday afternoon, and sat among mothers and their tween daughters. What was so great about the movie was that it wasn’t just a concert, it was behind the scenes and essentially a documentary about her life. But the most honest and heart-wrenching part is when she finally realize her marriage to Russell Brand can’t be saved. She’s due to go on stage in Brazil, I believe, in front of thousands of people. Here is a woman at probably the lowest point in her life, but she decides to go on with the show anyways. Cut to her singing The One That Got Away and me in the theater crying into my popcorn.