Incidentally, the above picture reflects my feelings whilst watching HSM III for the first time.
Shall we continue?
On the topic of night-time picnics, quite how Troy thought he would disguise his appearance at Mrs. Montez’s house when his truck was parked right outside is beyond me. I’ll cut the poor lad some slack: he’s in love. Foolishly, destructively in love.
On Gabriella’s Continued Arrogance- Stanford Honors Program Part III
1- As I said yesterday, the arrogance and bold-faced rudeness that Gabriella shows towards Troy not just here, but on a regular basis, should be enough to question Troyella as a viable couple. Clearly, Troy wasted a trip. Had he spent the evening working on his truck, instead of feeding pizza into his ungrateful girlfriend’s mouth whilst she cut him down for information that SHE refused to share, then he would not have broken down outside her house. Or perhaps if Troy had spent less time pole-vaulting himself around the Junkyard with Chad, and more time looking for spare parts, he might have avoided this situation.
However, this breakdown scene comes right after Gabriella has finally decided to go to California. So actually, is this scene a metaphorical way of demonstrating 1)- a setback in Troy’s life and 2)- more importantly, the breakdown of his relationship? Just as Troy’s truck refuses to co-operate, so does Gabriella refuse to communicate. Just as Troy chucks his keys and walks away, so should he have done after the rude treatment he just received. Is there a comparison here? Lessons to be learned?
Or perhaps we should look at it this way: the truck is unreliable and keeps breaking down, but Troy sticks with it out of a nostalgic love. He does everything he can to fix it, and it still gives up on him. Is this not a perfect metaphor for his relationship with Gabriella? Is that what we should infer from this scene?
(By the way, a truck that could barely make it from school to Gabriella’s house without almost throwing both passengers through the windshield will later become fit for purpose when Troy makes his mad dash for California, 1053 miles away. Because plot. We will discuss this later).
2- “Why are you saying goodbye? We still have prom. We still have to graduate.” The poor kid. When will he learn?
3- “I meant goodnight.” Gabriella tells another bold-faced lie, planning to abscond to California whilst he’s in school so she doesn’t have to face him. Afterwards, she doesn’t get back in contact with him until much later; we know this because Mr. Bolton brings up the issue a couple of days later. Now, let me be fair: if Gabriella had a consistent record of contributing to her relationship, if she treated Troy like a man and not a boy, if she discussed her own personal struggles with stability in a meaningful way, one might understand her upcoming Wail-Fest (”Walk Away”). Instead, during this dreary ballad, she makes no mention of Troy’s feelings (as per usual), the pain he must feel at being left behind. It’s all about me, myself and I. It’s truly painful watching Troy walking home alone, sitting up at night contemplating his loss, wandering around the school rooftops aimlessly, staring at Gabriella’s empty locker, presumably coming to pick up his truck and finding a “For Sale” sign outside. He doesn’t deserve this. All Gabriella had to do was just TALK TO HIM. You can’t accuse Troy of being unapproachable: he’s one of the most encouraging, open and understanding characters in the series!
Again, DID Troy at least FEEL that Gabriella should have said goodbye/not lied to him/not run off without telling him? Surely, he must have felt almost betrayed, even? *sigh*
By the way, another one of Troyella’s awkward kisses before the Wail-Fest. I think my eyes might roll out of my head. Nice to see some affectionate behaviour from Gabriella before Troy leaves, though. I don’t think she took some perverse pleasure in what she was about to do. She has some feelings. But at the end of the day, when it comes to her relationship or herself, she chooses the latter without remorse. (In HSM II, during the last Wail-Fest (”Go My Own Way”), she says “I gotta do what’s best for me.” And what was best for her was dumping Troy, ditching the necklace he gave her, and making him feel like shit). Why did no other character at least point out how unfair it was for Gabriella to leave just like that?
Again, let me be clear: I fully support all of Gabriella’s academic ambitions. These are the least offensive things about her. If she wanted to attend this program, more power to her. What I object to is the portrayal of her pursuing those ambitions as being forward-thinking and totally right, when the same treatment was denied Troy last time. If anyone had laughed Gabriella out of court for wanting to attend a top university, I can guarantee that viewers would have been outraged.
Long story short, this scene was an utter disgrace.
On Troy and Kelsi
Sanity! Sweet sanity!
1- First of all, I just want to discuss Sharpay in this scene. Like I said in the last instalment, I think it is was fortuitous that she schemed her way into the lead role with Troy. Not because Troy would benefit from it– his reaction says it all– but because Gabriella would eventually show a complete lack of respect for the musical, her friends and her boyfriend by quitting later on. But what she says is actually quite good advice: “Come on, people! We’re all pro’s here!” The Queen Bitch storyline wants you to believe that Sharpay is saying this for selfish reasons, but I think she’s actually appealing to sanity. Why do the other miserable Wildcats (Deadcats, by the looks of things) think that they can’t perform a musical without Gabriella? Are they the first people to do a musical? Whilst Gabriella is a somewhat decent singer (too overwrought for my tastes), she doesn’t have the star quality of Troy, nor the professional instincts of Sharpay, nor the creative genius of Ryan. She’s certainly not the best singer. She’s not a composer like Kelsi. Upon what basis are we supposed to accept that the show is doomed to failure?
Honestly, kudos to Sharpay for maintaining professional decorum. She said “we’re all pro’s here,” but it seems like only she is. I can even forgive her for claiming they should “do it for Gabriella!”. Dedicate hours of hard work to someone jumps ship without prior notice, and who won’t even show up without persuasion? Clearly, Sharpay was joking, right?
2- So, Kelsi continues in her righteous annoyance with all things Sharpay, but it is nice to see her and Ryan getting along. Of course, given the Royal Sham that occurred earlier between them, of whose name we shall not mention, this leaves the viewer in some confusion. Is Kelsi ever aware of Ryan’s true motivations for asking her to prom? Or, since Sharpay has finally gotten her way, is that shunted aside by the script, as Kelsi will have to give Sharpay the duet anyway? In which case, what was the reason for manipulating Ryan and Kelsi into the Royal Sham, since Sharpay used the exact same technique to nudge Gabriella aside as she did in HSM I? Seriously, what was the point?
3- Kelsi comforting Troy. It’s TOO good, people. I rewatch this like a madman. This is what you call a healthy friendship/relationship. She quite literally has the power to pick him up and by doing so, lift his spirits, and that is what makes Kelsi a great character overall. And it makes their interactions onscreen (cruelly limited as they are) compulsively rewatchable. They are blissfully and effortlessly comfortable with each other; asides from Gabriella, the only other person with whom Troy has held hands is with Kelsi. And it’s totally spontaneous; there’s no need for discussion, no awkwardness, because they don’t need to speak to communicate. Troy and Gabriella speak a lot– but they can’t communicate. Kelsi can say everything with just one gesture.
Troy understands this, appreciates this, values this. I’ve already discussed HSM II, where she makes that sympathetic gesture towards him whilst his other “friends” freeze him out for no good reason. Here, it’s the same. Notice that although some of the students already know that Gabriella has left, NO ONE has come to sit next to Troy in the front seat. Chad, who likes Gabriella and thus must be sympathetic to Troy, doesn’t come to check on his buddy. Taylor doesn’t come. Everyone else is just having their own quiet discussions, not even paying the slightest bit of attention to their FRIEND who is lonely, lost and withdrawn. Kelsi is the only one who goes out of her way to comfort him, and let him know that she’s concerned for him. What more need I say? I LOVE THE HUG!! Seriously, did you know I love the hug? :D Evidently Troy does, because you can see him smiling all the way to the piano.
Why no more screentime for Trelsi? We would have learned so much about them both as individuals, and they could have helped propel the plot by bonding over Gabriella’s absence. They are invaluable to the plot and, story problems and character arcs. It pains me that Kelsi is considered “minor”, when her music brings the whole gang together, and makes Troy into a star. Why couldn’t we have seen them rehearsing “Just Wanna Be With You”, or just hanging out? Why couldn’t it have been Troy who watched Kelsi composing that song, instead of Ryan coming in to fulfil the Royal Sham? Or Kelsi watching him play basketball, even though she knows nothing about it? (Alright, that’s my headcanon speaking). There’s SO much MORE to be seen and learned when it comes to Troy and Kelsi, and the fact that they got so little screentime is painful and infuriating. Why, script, WHY?
I have said before that HSM III brought me to Trelsi, because in my headcanon, they become closer during the latter half of this movie. This scene is EVERYTHING. Instead, Kelsi gets shunted off into a sham romance with Ryan, of whose name we shall not mention. To what aim?
Also, I like how Ryan waits till Troy is standing up (he makes a tiny gesture, encouraging him to stand), before walking to the piano with everyone else. He doesn’t just walk past. Just a little considerate gesture that makes Ryan a great character and a great friend. More screentime for these two, please.
I consider myself a disciple of the hard slog, and so if I have to endure torture to achieve a certain end, then I will do so. In such benevolence, I choose to rewatch High School Musical II and III, often in handcuffs and a gag so that I won’t hit anything in fury or scream at the laptop screen. From time to time, you might hear a muffled “Oh shutup”, often directed at Gabriella, and by the end, I end up cutting the movie short. I have, however, tasked myself in writing movie commentary for the second and third movie, which has the added benefit of helping me meet my daily word count of at least 1500 words.
Since I have no regulatory body over my head, I can quite freely give you the most biased interpretation of HSM II that you will ever read. Here we have a young, mature high school student who is worried about securing finance for his further education. To his complete surprise, he is offered a job at an exclusive country club, which would promise a great salary and great contacts. Rather than taking the opportunity just for himself, he goes out of his way to secure a position for his girlfriend and all his friends, giving them glowing recommendations. However, given that his own hiring was part of East High’s Prima Girl’s plot to sexually entrap him, and given that he receives a series of privileges related to his position, his friends turn against him as his promotions limit the amount of time he can spend with them. Once they have broken him down and convinced him of his inherent selfishness; once his girlfriend has left him in a fit of righteousness based on a cocktail of distortions and guilt-tripping, he comes grovelling back to his friends, taking all the blame for something the Prima Girl did and for daring to care about his future.
I do not pretend to have understood all of this on the first watch. This has come to me after reading meta analysis and rewatching with a more critical frame of mind. So here are my list of questions and prompts for this movie based on the above thoughts.
On Gabriella’s Quitting
According to the canonical narrative, Gabriella quits her job at Lava Springs because 1)- she is tired of Sharpay’s games and 2)- Troy has changed.
And so I ask the following:
1)- Prior to Gabriella’s claim that she wanted a summer to remember, she had expressed a desire to find employment. From Taylor’s dialogue, we hear that the two of them were becoming frustrated with their lack of success. Was it wise for Gabriella to quit her job if she was struggling elsewhere?
2)- Whilst being banned from the Talent Show was disappointing, that was not the reason that Gabriella took the job. It was simply an added benefit. So are her reasons for quitting justified? If anyone had a reason to quit, it would be Kelsi, who was writing for the show. Her role as a lifeguard was far more important to the running of the club, so doesn’t this lessen the value of her quitting?
On Gabriella’s accusations against Troy
1)- “…us working together sounded like a good idea.” How does she define “working together”? I take a literal view of this quote, and I see that they were not working together by any conventional stretch of the imagination. Am I missing something?
2)- “…but plans change and people change.” First of all, I assert that this is patently false. I see nothing in Troy’s behaviour that indicated a fundamental change in morals. At the very worst, he was inconsiderate (during the scene where he practically ignored Chad whilst speaking to the Redhawk guy), but that was it. Otherwise, he was polite to everyone– even to Sharpay, who had spent most of her time relentlessly pursuing him. Despite being unqualified to teach golf, he was polite to all the kids, polite to Mr. Fulton despite being followed by the man, kind to his friends (having secured them all jobs) and bending over backwards for Gabriella.
By comparison, Chad was incredibly rude, from poking fun at Troy and showing no sympathy to his struggles, to shouting at Troy in front of everyone on the slimmest provocation, to falsely claiming that Troy had been a jerk during the laughable “apology” scene WITHOUT acknowledging his own culpability. Zeke was also rude, poking fun at Troy and giving him dirty looks. Jason was rude, turning his back on Troy for no reason. Taylor was incredibly and quite unjustifiably mean to Troy, which puzzles me. After the gang practice “You Are The Music In Me”, Taylor seems kind and encouraging towards Troy, encouraging him to sign up for the Talent Show with a smile. Not long afterwards, she claims Troy forgot his date, without waiting to see the reason why (his wearing a suit might have been a clue to someone as smart as Taylor), and then she was planting unjustified suspicion in Gabriella’s head about Troy’s behaviour despite having heard (and I know this, because I’ve replayed the scene several times to be sure) Troy being clearly reluctant to sing with Sharpay. To Gabriella’s credit, she actually defends Troy in that scene, showing that she trusts him. I would have liked to have seen an apology from Taylor to Gabriella at the very least for misleading her throughout this movie.
Wherein lies the change?
3- Gabriella accuses Troy of “missing dates”. The “freaky math girl” struggles to differentiate between singular and plural and has a gloriously short-term memory. Troy missed ONE date. Not several. One. The reason for this was due to his busy schedule and the importance of securing favour with the Evans father for his scholarship opportunities. He set up the picnic in clear defiance of Club rules. He was late for the dinner/swim because of circumstances beyond his control (Gabriella quite commendably waited up for him); being late is not the same as missing a date. (Or forgetting one, as Taylor claims). The only “date” that Troy missed was free cheeseburgers in the kitchen. Call me heartless, but I think Gabriella will survive. Troy offered an apology and a reasonable explanation for missing this date. Now, it may be likely that Troy’s increasingly busy schedule would have limited his ability to keep more dates, but let’s not forget that by this time, Troy and Gabriella had been dating for the entire school year. It is reasonable to assume that they would have shared many dates. (Troy arranging all of them, of course). So I struggle to sympathise with the horror of losing out on free cheeseburgers.
Likewise, with the “blowing off your friends” accusation; Troy’s schedule required him to be called away on short notice. With the exception of his rather inconsiderate behaviour towards Chad at lunchtime (the same time he was supposed to produce free cheeseburgers), nothing in Troy’s behaviour suggested that he was intentionally avoiding his friends. In fact, he had even offered to practice with his friends moments before Chad blew a fuse and yelled at him for allegedly being selfish. (Troy’s hurt face at the end of that scene is heartbreaking). And notice that NO ONE came to Troy’s defence throughout this shouting match, because apparently ganging up on Troy doesn’t count as bad friendship, but Troy not giving you 100% attention due to future/career concerns is.
Would it be fair to say Gabriella’s claims here are patently false?
4)- Even if Troy had been as objectionable as Gabriella claims, NONE of those sins stopped her from doing the job that she was being paid (quite reasonably, we can assume) to do. None. If she was pissed with Troy, she could still have watched over the pool.
Caption: “Yes, Chad, I am going to Berkeley. No, it wasn’t my decision.”
In all seriousness, the above still comes from one of the few tolerable scenes throughout this entire movie. Troy and Chad at their best, the best of friends.
On The Musical- Part II
1- So, as we can see, Troy has (finally) shown up for the musical, performed his piece, given the usual stack of undue credit to Gabriella and received approval from the watching crowd. Like I said before, all of this is heavily overshadowed by the absolute punishment he endured in order to reach this point. Now, the plot needs Sharpay to be resurrected so that she can assert her place as Queen Bitch in line with story needs. Some would say that Sharpay’s part could have been resurrected by giving her the thoughtful, consistent and measured characterization that she deserved, given that her redeeming traits are just as fascinating as her significant flaws– in fact, I would even go as far as to say that her redeeming traits are the reason for her significant flaws. A passionate love for the arts gives birth to her desire to win at all costs. Instead, we have a risible and cringe-worthy Bitch Competition between Sharpay and someone not fit to buckle her sandals.
During the truly childish display that follows, one has to wonder about the opinion of the Juilliard judges at this point. They have, presumably excused, Troy’s initial no-show earlier. I highlight this point, because during the Sharpay-Tiara scene, you can see Mr and Mrs Evans reading what I assume is the program for the musical. Therefore I make the reasonable assumption that the Juilliard judges must also have had one with them. Furthermore, they also recognized Troy Bolton on sight. So, what do they make of Sharpay not appearing at the beginning of her next set (although due to reasons beyond her control), but then squabbling with a complete nobody onstage?
Thus ends Sharpay’s storyline in this story, and what a miserable ending it is, too.
1- Somewhat confused at part of the graduation ceremony seemingly happening right after the musical. Am I missing something here? Was this a different night altogether? I’m at a loss.
2- Kelsi Nielsen getting the credit she deserves always makes me smile! Jason’s jump-hug for graduating is somewhat endearing, although begs the question of why he thought Troy’s potential scholarship opportunity was so hilarious earlier. Anyway, kudos to him. Turns out he could study in the library and do a musical at the same time– who would have known?! Taylor McKessie– yes, there was never any question. Next stop: The White House. Again. Ryan Evans getting a scholarship to Juilliard is another highlight of the show– if not for the Royal Sham, every scene with Ryan in has been a pleasure to watch. And we also get to see Sharpay congratulating him, which SHOULD have been the culmination of her character arc, but instead comes after her being upstaged by two complete idiots for no good reason. Why Tiara Gold seriously thought that she would become Head of the Drama Department after her childish behaviour and ONE appearance as understudy is beyond me, but her lack of motivation and her dramatic exit are once again a reinder of her intrinsic uselessness to the plot.
3- “And now a Senior, whom I believe, has a decision to make! Mr Troy Bolton!”
Christ Almighty, how to watch this scene without cringing into a corner! Now of course, as I said earlier, theatre is as much a part of Troy’s identity as basketball, so it’s unsurprising that he chose the both. But unfortunately, this revelation comes off the back of little information. Which other colleges offered Troy a place? When did Troy get to do his research on what each college offered by way of a major? The latter half of this movie has been dedicated to him crawling after his ungrateful girlfriend entirely at his own expense. Not ONCE throughout this movie has Gabriella shown ANY interest in his further education apart from making a few casual comments about the Coach from U of A… right at the beginning of the movie. This lack of information makes it implausible that Troy would have carefully thought out his decision to attend UC Berkeley, as we will see in a minute. Once again, this is proof that the movies were less interested in Troy the man, and more interested in Troy as a subsidiary of Gabriella Montez. What was the point in building up all of the anticipation with regards to Troy’s future, which included a full-scale mental breakdown in the gymn after school hours, if we get no context or information as to how he weighed his options? Instead, we got glorification left, right and centre and several scenes for Gabriella, whose options were comparatively clearer for her, and involved little to no struggle to achieve. For goodness sake, we got a meaningless sequence involving Gabriella chewing her nails as she walked around Stanford, yet not so much as a scene involving Troy looking at university prospectuses! Lazy writing at its finest.
Furthermore, as if this decision wasn’t invalidated enough, Troy doesn’t even sound all that excited or pleased at the prospect of attending UC Berkeley. Or is it just me? He looked far more delighted when his friend Kelsi won the scholarship to Juilliard. (TINY scene, blink and you’ll miss it, but he looks very pleased for her). Given that they were both contenders for the scholarship, a final “Playmaker” scene between these two seemed FAR more appropriate than the upcoming travesty we’re about to hear. Like I said, Kelsi’s evolution is down to Troy, and the script could have reduced my anger with this film by recognizing that with another Trelsi scene designed to epitomise what their bond has represented for the entirety of the movie series. Instead we get the absolute travesty coming next.
A flat tone of voice and quick nod to affirm this decision (definitely pulled off the top of his head) is surely no way to underline the validity of this “decision”?
More importantly, please remember that Troy didn’t know what he would do if Juilliard said yes to him. Therefore is it right to assume that he could not have been thinking of Berkeley at this point in time? One has to wonder what he might have done if Juilliard had chosen him for a scholarship– would we still get the travesty of an ending that we actually received? Given Troy’s propensity to throw away opportunities that benefit him for the sake of validaiton from his girlfriend and friends, he would have thrown away the scholarship opportunity again (he is so beleaguered and ineffectual at this point, thanks to Gabriella’s horrendous behaviour) for the sake of this odious relationship.
4- “But most of all, I choose the person who inspires my heart… which is why I picked a school that is exactly 32… point 7… miles from you.”
Lord have mercy on this child. His doom is sealed. He has reached a point of no return in his quest for eternal servitude. What to say, folks? I must reiterate every event in the sinking of RMS Troy Bolton up until now: 1)- Gabriella’s insensitivity and lack of interest in Troy’s further education, 2)- Gabriella laughing at Troy potentially winning a scholarship to Juilliard, 3)- Gabriella withholding crucial information with regards to the Stanford Freshman Honors Program, 4)- Gabriella showing arrogance/rudeness when Troy finally found out, 5)- Gabriella rarely having any interest in Troy’s hurt when she leaves unceremoniously, 6)- Gabriella bailing on Troy for prom, the musical and graduation, 7)- Gabriella having to be persuaded to return, 8)- Every other time Gabriella has shown little to no interest in the effect of her actions on Troy, or anything that directly concerns him. After all of this, and all of her horrendous, cruel and selfish behaviour during HSM II, she is REWARDED by receiving Troy’s head on a platter for more of her abuse after graduation? I just can’t take this!
What is more insiduous is that the whole crowd, including his fellow high school students are delighted by a “decision” that CLEARLY wasn’t voluntary! Every other student has either chosen or accepted a place based on their own academic merit. Call me old-fashioned, but this should be the primary, if not only, reason that one chooses to invest money in a higher institution. Also remember folks, that we don’t know whether Troy has been offered a scholarship to Berkeley– I’m assuming not, given the reckless haste with which he made this decision. (WHEN, is what I’d like to know!!) So we have to assume that Troy will be FORKING OUT YET MORE CASH, which his parents were struggling to pay, on attending the UC Berkeley for ROMANTIC reasons which are prioritized over ACADEMIC reasons. Folks, this is pure tragedy. And because the audience are smiling, and sighing at this, we, the audience, are expected to consider this so very noble! Meanwhile, Gabriella would NEVER have made such a decision: she had always wanted to attend Stanford University, despite her whining to the contrary, since she was a child. Troy’s ambition had previously been the U of A. Even taking into consideration Mr. Bolton’s unreasonable pressure on Troy with regards to attending U of A, Troy did stand a good chance of getting said scholarship based on how impressed Mr Evans was with his practice. Why are we given no indication of Troy’s interactions with any other university during this movie? More importantly, why can NO ONE else in his class see the dreadful implications of this “decision”, despite having seen Troy’s descent into melancholy over the school year? For heaven’s sake, Gabriella dumped him over the phone– isn’t that an omen?
Chad should not have walked out in disappointment, but rather in anger, given that his best buddy was shackling himself to a girl who didn’t care two figs about him. But of course, Chad thinks Gabriella is one step ahead.
What is the point of making Troy struggle about his academic future and pursuits if the most important reason for choosing UC Berkeley was romantic, rather than pragmatic/practical/reality-based/academic?
Furthermore, isn’t it absurd that Troy was so adamant against choosing a university that his father and Chad wanted him to attend, but then so blithely states that he will be following Gabriella to California?
As for the claim that Gabriella “inspires my heart”, I have no words. If inspiring one’s heart means sending one into a pit of self-denial, self-destruction, instability, constant vulnerability, doubt and even depression, then I do not even know what the word “inspire” now means. Folks, there is NO WAY that these two continued to maintain a viable relationship after graduation. I have expounded on the reasons why throughout this “Questions” series and will continue to do so in future. Nevermind what the morally and technically deficient script claims. All the scriptwriters have done is just provide overwhelming and undeniable evidence that this couple is untenable, undesirable and downright alarming for Troy’s well-being and mental health, whilst believing that they were bringing a touching love story to life. Actually, they have just set the meaning of true love to burn on a bonfire. I can’t see them lasting even one semester more, let alone the implied years and years of romantic bliss. It’s just impossible. Meanwhile, Troy will still have a massive tuition bill over his head at the end of the three or four years of study, and precious little to show for his (latest) drastic “decision”.
Why would the scriptwriters massacre their main protagonist in this way? How is this a happy ending, to have a young boy choosing his own path based on a RELATIONSHIP that hardly deserves the title, and not on the academic pursuits that have characterized his struggle? Again, on the first watch, I had completely lost the will to live by this point.
An utter disgrace and an outrage by any decent standards.
5- Chad Danforth has left the stage, people! As I mentioned before, Taylor relies upon Troy to reach out to Chad, thus demonstrating that despite all of her disloyal, unjust and quite frankly puzzling behaviour towards Troy, she does actually like him! Amazing. What follows is a far more palatable scene than the monstrosity we just witnessed. I like any and all Troy-Chad friendship scenes and this definitely does not disappoint. The brotherly affection and calm acceptance of the future is definitely worth watching, even if the patient viewer is still having seizures over Troy’s horrendous announcement.
The way Chad reacts to Troy’s decision is representative of Chad himself, who is still bound by the Status Quo and very much reliant upon his friendship with Troy– perhaps more so than Troy himself, who by now, is not afraid to try new things. Therefore, I think it is good in the long run that the boys attend different universities, as we see that Chad can shine on his own merits. Of course, there is some hypocrisy here, as is usually the case with Chad, in that he is disappointed (but presumably accepting) of Troy’s decision here, but always quick to jealousy when they are sharing the same opportunities. Anyway, I am willing to overlook this as the very least of Chad’s faults, in favour of the great banter and chemistry they share in this final scene. I also love their teamwork and yet friendly competition which is underlined by mutual respect and true brotherhood as well. Yes, a very touching scene. Pity that it alone cannot save this movie, which is taking in more water than the Titanic, but touching nonetheless.
Likewise, I LOVE the hug between Troy and his father, highlighting mutual understanding, acceptance, love and loyalty. Again, more of THIS and less of you-know-what would have saved my faith.
Troy’s Graduation Speech- The Parts You DIDN’T hear
1- As has been pointed out before (credit to BoltonEvans and others), Troy should not be giving the graduation speech. However, in a long line of questionable, outrageous and downright alarming script-writing decisions, this is one of the least offensive, so I just roll with it. During the first watch, I was barely listening anyway, having died shortly after Troy and Chad returned to the stage.
2- “East High is a place where teachers encouraged us to break the Status Quo…”
Indeed, Troy. So what have you got to say for yourself?
This is a nonsensical statement, given that the Status Quo of Troy/Gabriella is never ever challenged, no matter the destructive effects, and the Wildcats largely, throughout the course of the series, continue with their dismissal, disloyalty and hypocrisy towards Troy and his ambitions.
3- “…and define ourselves as WE choose…”
Did Troy write this speech before or after selling his soul? If he wrote it before, then this line is commendable. If he wrote it afterwards (which seems more likely), then he’s actually living on another planet.
4- “Where a jock can cook up a mean crême brûlée…”
And then laugh at Troy for having aspirations in the Performing Arts.
5- “Where a braniac can break down on a dance floor…”
Martha’s brain was largely abandoned in favour of casting her as a cheerleader, so this line rings hollow. But kudos anyway.
6- “It’s a place where one person… if it’s the right person… changes us all.”
FOR THE WORSE.
The only tolerable part of this involved Sharpay finally abandoning her disdain/Queen Bitch clothing to smile at Gabriella– but it is a completely undeserved smile. If anyone deserves an encouraging smile, it should be Troy, who has endured hell in this movie, barely looks animated or excited whilst giving this speech, and has sold his soul in a long list of sacrifices for a relationship that only exists in his head. Gabriella has NOT changed everyone; Troy has. Troy has had much more to lose throughout the movie series, and has still gone against the grain. Troy is the one who reached out and made friends, brought people together and helped people to enjoy the performing arts. Troy is the one who has redefined his identity. (He’s also helped to destroy it). This is thoroughly false stuff.
Why no line for Kelsi? I don’t really give two fucks about Martha’s breakdancing, and Troy barely interacted with her AT ALL. On the contrary, Kelsi is one of his best friends and their bond has been one of the few highlights throughout. We could have had a GREAT homage to the two Playmakers here, which would have signalled a fitting conclusion for one of the few decent relationships on this show. Why couldn’t he discuss how Kelsi had risen from being shy to realizing her worth as Playmaker? That would have been far more relevant to the show’s overall message. Or what about Ryan, who has risen from being seen as a Sideshow Bob to being valued on his own merit? What have either Zeke or Martha done that is so significant by comparison? Unjust exclusion by Troy here.
7- “East High is having friends that we’ll keep for the rest of our lives.”
Troy continues his glorious trait of making grand predictions and assumptions based on little to no evidence at all. SOME friends should be kept, others discarded on the trash heap. *cough cough*
It is at this point that we get another cute Chaylor moment. Again, I am left stuttering that these two might not remain together, whilst the inevitability of Troyella is stamped across the screen. Anyone with a pair of eyes can see the effortless communication, sweetness, maturity and complementary nature of Chaylor supersedes every odious facet of the Troyella pairing. But nonetheless, a sweet Chaylor moment.
8- “…once a Wildcat, always a Wildcat.”
Once disloyal, ungrateful, jealous, cruel and hypocritical, ALWAYS… You fill in the rest. Okay, I’m being mean. Yes, the Wildcats make a decent team when they are together.
And, of course, everyone cheers because hey! Plot reasons.
To cap it all off, we get a catchy song that it admittedly enjoyable. I was slightly resurrected from my death during the first watch so that I could nod along to the beat. Sadly, I was not “sad we have to let it go”, because of the heinous screenwriting and character crimes witnessed therein. Still, catchy. Like I said, this movie did a decent job with the music and choreography throughout; there were great tunes, great sets, great costumes, great scenes and so on. Visually speaking, this movie definitely lived up to at least the very first one. Unfortunately, the story so wore me down and eventually infuriated me that I struggle to give these other factors their proper due. Am I too sour and ungrateful? Perhaps.
Nonetheless, I hope you have enjoyed this “Questions” series!
This was actually based on me watching the movie alongside writing these out, whereas I did the HSM II one based on memory. Depending on what you guys think, I might try the same for at least HSM II later, but I also want to work on other stuff, particularly my favourite relationships (Trelsi, thou shalt not be forgotten!!!) and dreaming up HSM headcanons. Feel free to make suggestions, and let me know what you think.
The above image is, of course, Gabriella in the midst of her somewhat commendable tirade against Sharpay for banning Employee involvement in the Talent Show.
I continue with my questions about this movie.
On Wildcat ingratitude
1- Perhaps Troy didn’t give all his friends a full rundown of the jobs available for the Wildcats upon Mr. Fulton agreeing to hire them all, but one would have thought they would be delighted to get summer employment. And so they are, until Mr. Fulton informed them of the “perspiration” that would be involved. Stop the world! This is awful, according to the Wildcats, as they burst into enraged song.
Forgive me for asking, but doesn’t a job involve… work?
2-. Chad, who believes that working as a waiter and being a caddy is worse than detention with Ms Darbus, is suddenly reformed from his misery when he discovers the financial perks of being a caddy. No doubt Troy had a hand in recommending Chad for this position, just as he did for everyone else. In fact, Chad is so pleased about his good fortune, that he plans to save for a car, just like he said. But Chad, jealous and bitter of Troy’s success, blows a fuse over said success and never apologizes for doing so. But throughout, I assume that his role as a caddy would have earned him tips over and above his waiter duty.
Precisely what did Chad lose throughout his stint at Lava Springs? Didn’t he get a decent deal?
3- I struggle to understand Zeke’s rising annoyance with Troy. Firstly, I thought they always got on well. Secondly, Troy is responsible for securing Zeke a role in the kitchen that would expose his cooking skills to a wider (and more sophisticated) audience. He said, “I’m hoping that Chef Michael will teach me the art of Austrian flake pastry”. Signed, sealed, delivered courtesy of Troy’s recommendation of Zeke’s cooking skills to Mr. Fulton. (Remember that everything Mr. Fulton said to each character in the kitchen was based upon information he had received from Troy). Not long after, Zeke mockingly calls Troy “LeBron” and claims Troy “bailed” on his friends with regards to the Staff Baseball game, and then dumps an omelette in Troy’s plate with a glare during the famous Silent Treatment scene. Of course, as soon as Troy “apologizes” (I use brackets out of contempt for the motivation behind his apology), Zeke is all smiles again, joking that “because show-business is our entire life, right?”. Ah. So it didn’t really matter whether you missed out on the Talent Show or not, because you were actually there to work and earn money for college.
3- I have already mentioned Taylor’s behaviour throughout. We know that Troy told Mr. Fulton that she was efficient. As a sign of that, she was given the very important role of managing all events and keeping an eye on the children on the course. This role would demonstrate her organizational and management skills, which would look great on her resumé. She was entrusted with large events, she was clearly popular with the visitors/members (the cute scene where all those kids say hi to her before she slams into Mr. Fulton is evidence of this), no one complained about her work, she got her own golf-cart and she must have received a decent salary for such high responsibility. So her angry face upon receiving the clipboard astounds me.
Was Troy wrong for getting Taylor the job? I thought she was struggling to find work? Where’s the gratitude?
4- I can’t take credit for this next one (this comes from BoltonEvans), but Kelsi’s complaints to Troy are perhaps the most ludicrous and mystical. Ingratitude one can expect from the other Wildcats. And though I have forgiven Kelsi for this, given that she does not turn her back on Troy much later, AND gets Chad to forgive Troy, I can’t gloss over her actions during the first scene with Mr. Fulton. The only thing Kelsi lost was her chocolate mousse. Otherwise, she was hired– by Sharpay, no less. The same Sharpay who had bossed her around beforehand, and now offered her a job with no questions asked. Don’t you think that an exclusive country club could have had its pick from any more experienced pianist with more than one high school musical under their belt?
Precisely what was the justification for Kelsi’s complaint? She was being hired to do what she did best: WRITE and PLAY music! Didn’t she say she was going to spend her holidays writing music? Mr. Fulton said she had to play to entertain guests, a way of exposing her musicianship to a wide array of sophisticated guests. What about this was unsatisfactory for her, and why was it Troy’s fault?
EDIT: The most important question, which I forgot last night:
5- Why was it Troy’s fault that Sharpay banned Employee involvement in the Talent Show? WHY? I can’t bear to watch this scene, except for Kelsi’s refusal to turn her back (literally) on Troy. This is infuriating. What did Troy have to gain by colluding with Sharpay? Nothing. He didn’t do anything. Why would he want to ruin his own friend’s chances of performing in the show? WHY DID THEY GIVE HIM THE SILENT TREATMENT FOR SOMETHING HE DIDN’T DO?!
On Gabriella’s behaviour
A recurring theme in the movies is that everything is Troy’s fault. Can any criticisms be made of Gabriella’s own behaviour?
1- All of the dates throughout the entire movie series were set up by Troy. Not once does Gabriella set up a date for Troy during the movie, although I assume that since Troy has had Mrs. Montez’s brownies, she will have arranged for Troy to meet her mother. Still, you don’t see Gabriella climbing trees to bring Troy a picnic of his favourite foods, or thinking of any other little considerate thing to do on his behalf. This continues through to the third movie, where she enjoys his tree house, gets free rides in his battered truck and pizza delivered straight to her room.
Would it have killed her to make an effort now and again?
2- When Troy is worrying over his future, Gabriella insists that they must think about the present. Of course, one can sympathize with the lack of stability in Gabriella’s life: the constant moving around, the lack of a father figure (never explained, thanks to Barsocchini) and her alienation from other students thanks to her intelligence. All understandable. In practice, her dialogue about wanting to stay in one place over the summer is fine. But it comes right after Troy has just confided very deep worries to her. Instead of actually engaging with the comment he made and answering his specific point, she turns the conversation to her. This might seem minor, but she actually does this again in the third movie at least twice. Listen to what Troy says, pretend to understand and then turn the conversation back to herself. Obviously if Troy is worried about finance for college, then he can’t just “focus on right now”. That is not to say that chronic worrying is a good thing, and Troy definitely might have anxiety/self-esteem issues (thanks, Gabriella), but he is also mature and practical when it comes to his future.
This is one of the reasons that I find Troy and Gabriella’s conversations to be intolerably dull. Foolishly, I had entertained high hopes for the third movie when I first saw it; high hopes that were crushed within the first fifteen minutes. I can be fair and assume that they may have discussed other things than musicals, Gabriella, college, Gabriella and more Gabriella. But somehow I can’t picture it. Their communication problems (none of which are Troy’s fault) are glaring throughout the second movie.
Why does Gabriella show such a lack of interest, even approaching impatience with Troy’s concerns, but then blame him when they have a(nother) communication breakdown?
3- In quite possibly one of the most upsetting parts of the movie, Gabriella cuts Troy down for having forgotten the Staff Baseball Game, talking to him as though he is a wayward three year-old who needs guiding by the hand. Of course, Gabriella never offers to come and watch Troy playing with the Redhawks. That would involve taking an interest in his life, and caring about his future. I have already discussed the disproportionate rage over losing out on free cheeseburgers. However, she also mocks Troy for having received Italian golf shoes (over which he innocently asked Sharpay’s opinion earlier), new clothes and golf carts. Any reasonable person can see that Troy never went looking for any of these things, and was astonished to receive them. But moments after Gabriella cut Troy down to pea size with her cruel mockery, we see her sitting next to Taylor… in a golf cart.
So it’s a new Troy when he unexpectedly receives a promotion and accompanying golf cart, but Taylor, who has been enjoying free reign over the country club in her golf cart, has remained the same. How does Gabriella justify this?
4- In the most upsetting part of the movie, Gabriella is seen to befriend Ryan. At first glance, we assume that she is being kind, although one might remember that she has never shown any interest in Ryan before. Ryan is the neglected half of the Evans duo, constantly overlooked in favour of his sister. Despite being talented in various areas (arguably more talented than Sharpay, given that he can sing, dance, play piano and choreograph), everyone looks to his dazzling blonde sister first and then to him as an afterthought. He craves validation on his own merit. So of course, he is flattered and uplifted when Gabriella appears to be friendly towards him. (Excessively friendly, as we hear her say “you’re so awesome!”, which counts as flirting in my book. Fake flirting.) He thinks that she is being genuine and is delighted to hear his sports skills as well as his choreography being praised. He doesn’t suspect anything amiss, and neither did I. But then when Gabriella has duped him into a dance (I don’t know whether she really couldn’t remember it; her fakeness is too suspicious) and Troy appears, the façade is blown apart. The careful viewer may notice how Ryan looks at Gabriella and sees what I consider a very cold, calculating and vindictive expression on her face. Troy, by comparison, looks hurt and humiliated (I often can’t watch this scene). It is never addressed in canon– rather, it is glossed over, but I refuse to believe that Ryan didn’t understand what Gabriella had done just then. He MUST have known that she was using him. Or at least suspected it. The awkward silences and giggles from her spoke volumes. Anyway, Ryan quite commendably tried to keep things friendly, because he was doing nothing wrong. But on account of Gabriella’s emotional manipulation, Troy was short/irritated with Ryan and not her. Like I said, this scene has me cringing all the way through.
Bottom line? This is CRUEL. Just cruel. And why does Gabriella do this? Is it because she wanted to be cruel? I actually don’t think so. Her expression when Troy had left was strangely pensive, even remorseful. But she did intend to punish him because she felt he was cheating on her with Sharpay. This is so absurd a suspicion that it would be a waste of words to discuss it, but suffice to say that Taylor had a hand in planting that suspicion. Still, the act of exploiting Ryan’s need for validation to send Troy the message that she basically didn’t need him, that two could play that the “game”, was the cruelest act in the movie. She is not vindicated by the fact that later, she quite commendably defends Ryan’s hard work against Sharpay, because her accusations against Sharpay are rendered hypocritical given her own actions.
She accuses Sharpay of selfishness, but she has been irritated with Troy for not catering to her needs throughout their time at Lava Springs. She accuses Sharpay of playing games, but she used Ryan to make Troy jealous. She accuses Sharpay of leaving a trail of damage behind her, but she hurt Troy by dumping him in the middle of the summer, after having subjected him to criticism, mockery and manipulation beforehand, bolstered by a cocktail of lies about Troy’s behaviour.
Why does Gabriella never realize this? Why is she never obliged to apologized? Why so hypocritical?
5- Apparently in a deleted scene, Taylor has to drag Gabriella out of her room (having invented another one of her sister’s ridiculous rules to support the action) to come and be reunited with Troy. Because romance. Clearly, Gabriella was not exactly pining for Troy if the prospect of being reunited with him caused such reluctance. Neither of them discuss the issues in their relationship, and Gabriella certainly doesn’t apologize, although kudos to her for showing up eventually.
Do people resolve their relationship problems by singing?
Like I said, I am biased. I do not pretend to be impartial here. I think that Troy was largely justified in his actions throughout this movie, and would genuinely seek answers for the above questions. We shall see. I think I might do one for HSM III as well in the near future. Oh, the torture.
Welcome back, folks. Pen in hand, we shall traverse into this abyss.
This section will include some notes on various important scenes as well as questions, as not everything is objectionable.
On Juilliard (continued)
As it so happens, I had some afterthoughts on the last post, so I just want to expand on the Juilliard section. I see a great hypocrisy in Chad, a complete 180 from the first movie, when he decides to support Troy’s theatre ambitions. Granted, this was after his webcam stunt that almost destroyed Troy’s relationship and trust. Now, he’s guffawing because his best friend is gifted enough to earn a Performance Arts scholarship. Remember, Hoops needs to be Hoops. Chad and Troy are on completely different wavelengths throughout the movie. It wouldn’t be a problem if Chad didn’t resort to mocking anything Troy did that didn’t fit the image.
On Ryan Evans
Just in case you guys think I’m a complainer, I have no complaints about Ryan Evans. In this movie, he is thinking for himself. He commendably defied Sharpay’s Reign of Teror during HSM II, and now is having none of her usual attempts to subdue and intimidate him. Furthermore, he questions/vocally disputes her presumptions and judgements. In the New York Deli scene, I think the wheels in his mind are already turning as to winning the Juilliard Scholarship for himself. And let’s be clear: Ryan loves validation. He craves validation. But with that ambition is a sensitivity and awkwardness which grounds him and makes him enjoyable to watch. He wants to win that scholarship himself, which is why he brings up the fact that there is only one opportunity. It is also notable that Sharpay actually admits her reliance upon Ryan to succeed (”With you we can win!”)
Also kudos to Ryan for taking Troy’s side RE Juilliard. “Well, he seemed pretty surprised to me.” Sharpay makes the unsubstantiated claim that Troy secretly applied for Juilliard (as if the School belongs to her), showing that despite having pursued Troy like a copy throughout high school, she knows absolutely fuck all about him. (I’d really love to know how Troypay shippers justify her calling him a “puppy dog” behind his back).
By the way, “I Want It All” is one of my favourite numbers in the movie. Say what you want about the writing, but they didn’t half-step with the music/choreography.
Why didn’t we get to see how Ryan developed the choreography for the musical? He’s incredibly talented and his creative genius was responsible for the musical’s success as much as Kelsi’s compositions.
Only wrong move on Ryan’s part was agreeing to the fake-romance stunt with Kelsi, but that is more of a monstrous screenwriting crime, a manipulation of a character to suit oneself, rather than to suit Ryan as a person. I will discuss this in more detail later.
On Taylor KcKessie and Gabriella Montez
1- Throughout the movie, Taylor is nothing but encouraging and supportive of Gabriella’s ambitions. Furthermore, she persistently exhorts Gabriella to admit that she is up for the Stanford Freshman Honors Program, something that Gabriella steadfastly refuses to do. Of course, Taylor could have divulged this information herself, but chooses not to do so. This is loyal and commendable. Though I dislike Gabriella, I do like her friendship with Taylor. But it’s crystal clear that Gabriella is on her own planet throughout; she isn’t even listening when Taylor says “you’re going to be hearing from them any day… Hello?” To which the response is “Taylor, these things take time!” Similar (but far less brutal) condescension.
What things take time, Gabriella? The response from Stanford, or the time you took to tell your boyfriend about the Program? I’d love to know.
On Waltzing and Wasting Time on School Rooftops
1- This scene is an embarrassment, a cringeworthy spectacle that makes me want to wash my eyeballs. Everything here is objectionable. Troy says he needs Gabriella’s help to pick out a suit.
And my question is WHY?
2- Troy claims he has never been to a dance. You seriously start to wonder about his later claim that he sees things much clearer in trees. This is a kid who has been in a school musical and an exclusive Talent Show, during which he… danced. This is a kid who agreed to do a further musical, during which he would… dance. I cannot fathom his newfound innocence to all things dance-related. What else can’t he do? Comb his own hair? Brush his own teeth? The poor kid has no self-belief whatsoever.
And my question is WHY? Ludicrous scriptwriting here.
By the way, Troy’s awkward excitement about the prom here serves to highlight the cruelty of Gabriella bailing on him much later.
3- After Troy has claimed he has no idea how to do the piss-easy waltz (credit to BoltonEvans again), even though he had no problem with more complicated dance-moves beforehand, Gabriella mentions her father! But instead of getting the necessary background that would have given Gabriella some depth, Mr Montez is mentioned solely for plot-related reasons. Knowing more about the absent father figure in Gabriella’s life would make her far more sympathetic in at least one respect. For example, it might explain her eagerness to make a good impression on Mr. Bolton in HSM I. Instead, he’s just there so Troy can waltz. Oh script, why? WHY?
I’m assuming her father died, else Gabriella would not have smiled in such a nostalgic manner. “Can I Have This Dance” is absurdly boring, and I always skip this part. How no teacher or other student saw these two spinning around like ravers at a nighclub on the school rooftops is beyond me. The school day had just begun! And miss me with the rain/kiss nonsense. Honestly another forgettable Troyella scene.
4- Speaking of rain, Troyella have the most AWKWARD kissing scenes ever. Just get to it already! I’m turning away from the screen, chewing my nails, pretending to be interested in the table whilst they take a millennium to just do the damn deed. On a more interesting note, Gabriella seems to really like water. This accords with her childlike, playful nature– possibly endearing were it not overshadowed by her selfishness, arrogance, cruelty and hypocrisy. Why does she like water so much? Childhood memories?
Anyway, Troy says “So is that a yes?” and Gabriella agrees, demonstrating her extraordinary ability to lie in many different languages. I don’t care what anyone else thinks: once she said yes, she had an OBLIGATION to attend prom. The fact that she didn’t, the fact that she waited until two days prior to bail on Troy is an indictment upon her character. (Or what’s left of it).
On Stealing Clothes
1- That’s a straight detention for Troy and Chad. The teachers are inexplicably lax throughout– how on earth did they allow these guys to dash through a game and what looks like a mechanic/ D & T room before reaching the stage? They could have injured themselves, or hurt someone else. This whole scene is just an excuse to justify the existence of Jimmie and Donny. Not satisfied with causing disruption to a game, running around heavy machines and dashing through corridors, they decide to interrupt rehearsal. But not just any rehearsal; it’s the same musical they both signed up for!
Seriously? Why did this scene make the final cut? What value does it bring to the movie? (Apart from perhaps demonstrating that Troy and Chad must have been a nightmare as kids growing up).
More analysis upcoming, folks. Because the fun never stops. :D