Picking up days (possibly hours) after the end of the improbably popular High School Musical, High School Musical 2 tells the continuing story of our high school heroes in the summer following their junior year. What are they doing? Working at (or hanging out at, in the case of the elite Sharpay (Ashley Tisdale) and Ryan (Lucas Grabeel)) the local country club, each trying to earn some college cash, at least in between dance numbers.
The central dilemma comes when Sharpay -- whose family turns out to be so rich (dad lands in a helicopter for his tee time) that one wonders why she is slumming it at public school -- attempts to steal Troy (Zac Efron) away from Gabriella (Vanessa Anne Hudgens) by pulling strings to elevate him from the kitchen and the caddy locker room to a salaried position, complete with "Italian shoes." Not only does this successfully alienate him from Gabriella, but his b-ball friends start to hate him too. Will Troy hang with the riches or realize that friendship is more important than his future?
Not a lot of surprise where this one ends up, as it lacks the sizzle and orginality that made the first film so popular. It's likely to be remembered as filler between the first and third installments of the series, rehashing largely the same plot, which giving curious little screen time to Hudgens. Parents may enjoy the setting more than the high school cafeteria: HSM2 makes exceptional use of the New Mexico desert's natural beauty. Beats dancing in the gym, that's for sure.
The songs in this installment are nowhere near the quality of those in the original, but they work well enough. Maybe not well enough to sustain nearly two hours of running time, though. I know my daughter got bored before the big finish, and twice I've found myself wandering off to the kitchen midway through trying to watch the DVD. Somewhere out there, an editor needs a hug.
The Deluxe Dance Edition DVD includes two discs, featuring an "interactive dance-along" feature, deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes goodies and tours, and a music video.