Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure: Toon Talk
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Spin-offs are tricky; for every Frasier, there’s a dozen Joeys. The key to a successful spin-off is a character that is interesting and compelling enough to break out of the supporting ranks to become a full-fledged leading player. So when it came time for Disney to try to milk their hit High School Musical franchise even further, it’s no surprise that they chose HSM’s resident diva, Sharpay Evans.
As played by blonde wannabe-dynamo Ashley Tisdale in two Disney Channel movies and one theatrical feature, Sharpay was a teenaged drama queen to be reckoned with, a rising star… at least in her own mind. And now she is the star, of her own direct-to-video movie, Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure (available on Disney DVD and Blu-ray Combo Pack this week).
Alas, this Adventure is not that Fabulous. Borrowing heavily from such previous “girl power” chick flicks as Legally Blonde and The Devil Wears Prada, Sharpay’s first solo outing is as predictable, clichéd and preposterous as the all-pink wardrobe of its leading lady.
After graduating in High School Musical 3: Senior Year, we find Sharpay doing what she does best: singing a song about how fabulous she is, this time at a country club event where she is “discovered” by a visiting Broadway talent scout. Before you can say “bop to the top”, she is jetting from Albuquerque to the Big Apple, with her perky pooch Boi (yes, “Boi”, spelled “B-o-i”) in tow and only a month to become a star.
Limp obstacles are thrown in her path, such as getting kicked out of her posh penthouse apartment thanks to their “no pets” policy, but all is better once she meets her too-good-to-be-true Prince Charming, NYU film student Peyton Leverett (the Zac Efron-esque Austin Butler). Despite her being a raging snob and complete spoiled brat, Peyton inexplicably takes a shine to Sharpay, and all is good in this happy, shiny New York City.
That is, until Sharpay learns that the Great White Way doesn’t want the blonde, but her Boi. That’s right, a New York casting agent wants a dog from New Mexico to star in the next big Broadway musical. Devastated at first, Sharpay decides to go ahead with it all when she realizes that her road to stardom may be more of a dog walk. But first she has to get past her and Boi’s competition, namely boarding school brat Roger Elliston III (Bradley Steven Perry, of the Disney Channel’s Good Luck Charlie) and his coy cocker spaniel Countess. And the choice as to which canine co-star makes it into Girl’s Best Friend is up to the show’s demanding Prima Donna of a leading lady, Amber Lee Adams (Cameron Goodman). Meanwhile, waiting in the wings for her Peggy Sawyer moment, there’s no doubt how this Adventure will end up for Sharpay.
With pedestrian direction by the former Kaptain Kool and One Day at a Time star Michael Lembeck (who also directed the last two Santa Clause movies), SFA lacks the spunky/cheesy charms of theHSM series. It also ditches the “burst into song” formula of its predecessors; instead, all the musical numbers (of which there are surprisingly few) are performed in onstage theatrical settings. This means we’re left with scene after scene of lame dialogue to fill out the plot. For a truly “fabulous adventure”, we needed to see Sharpay leading a kick line across the Brooklyn Bridge or belting one out atop the Empire State Building. As it is, her big number is delivered from a drab, empty stage. If Disney wanted to inject more reality into their fading High School Musical franchise, they’re a little too late for that.
In a Blu-ray only bonus, Ashley Tisdale explores “The Evolution of Sharpay” through all four movies. Other bonuses (available on both the DVD and Blu-ray) include a blooper reel (mostly, not surprisingly, doggie-related) and the “Austin Cam”, which features behind-the-scenes footage as shot on set and in character by Austin Butler.
Toon Talk Rating: C-
- April 22 was Earth Day, so that means the next Disney Nature documentary in theaters. This year’s feature: African Cats.
- Spring has sprung, time for the Prom (in theaters April 29 from Walt Disney Pictures).
- He’s big, he’s blonde, and he’s got a hammer: he’s Thor, in theaters May 6 from Marvel Studios.
-- Kirby C. Holt
-- Logos by William C. Searcy, Magic Bear Graphics
Kirby is a lifelong Disney fan and film buff. He is also an avid list maker and chronic ellipsis user ... In addition to his Toon Talk reviews, Kirby is the creator of Movie Dearest, a blog for movie fans.
Took Talk: Disney Film & Video Reviews by Kirby C. Holt is posted whenever there's something new to review.
The opinions expressed by our Kirby C. Holt, and all of our columnists, do not necessarily represent the feelings of LaughingPlace.com or any of its employees or advertisers. All speculation and rumors about the future plans of the Walt Disney Company are just that - speculation and rumors - and should be treated as such.
-- Posted April 26, 2011