This direct-to-DVD movie isn't exactly what you'd call good, but it was considerably better than yet another High School Musical installment. This spinoff had the decency to focus on the best thing about the HSM franchise: the Sharpay character. She's self-involved and pampered to a deliriously wonderful degree, and here she gets it in her brainy head to go to New York to pursue her dream of being an actress, which she soon realizes that it is a bit more difficult than just flashing her daddy's credit card everywhere. It has elements of Legally Blonde (Sharpay's obsessed with pink, too) but while I personally adore Ashley Tisdale, Reese Witherspoon she is not. Here's what really doesn't work about the movie:
The Fantastically Original Plot
Sharpay wants to move to New York to get a part in a musical because a talent agent of some sort told her she was great. Of course, it was all a big misunderstanding because the casting director really wanted her dog to be in the show, not her, and - wouldn't ya know -- her fancy dream penthouse doesn't allow dogs, so she gets kicked out and then has to rough it.
Straight Out of Canada
This film is supposed to be largely set in New York City, but it was clearly shot in Canada, and if the scenery wasn't enough of a giveaway, the fact that there are multiple Degrassi stars in it could have clued anyone in. There's Lauren Collins, who was on recent seasons of the show playing Sharpay's fast-talking BFF, and for old school Degrassi fans, there's Pat Mastroianni (a.k.a. Joey Jeremiah) as the casting agent. While I'm glad to see them getting work, nothing screams "We're not where we say we are" like multiple Canadian TV stars.
Romance Is For the Dogs
Sharpay has a romance with that dopey boy from Life Unexpected (Austin Butler), but honestly that storyline plays second fiddle to the romance between Sharpay's dog Boi and the other pooch competing to be a star in the big musical. At one point, Boi stares longingly out at the streets of New York, like he's Fievel in An American Tail. Then two dogs escape their owners and go on a horse-drawn carriage set to Butler's version of Justin Bieber's "Baby." I love that this straight-to-DVD couldn't even afford the real song.
The opening number is basically Sharpay at a fashion show singing about how amazing she is. It includes such stellar lyrics as "Like an angel in Armani, I'm just too fabulous." And there's a line about her "Poochie in her Gucci" that sounds really, really wrong if you aren't paying attention. And the songs from the musical are just silly and derivative.
The Musical Within the Movie
The musical that Sharpay has set her sights on is called Girl's Best Friend and is about a girl who moves to the big city and wants to be a famous star, but falls in love along the way. It's just so convenient that it follows the exact plot of Sharpay's journey.
The Documentary Within the Movie
In addition to the musical, there's also a subplot in which Peyton (Butler), a student and friend of Sharpay's family, "discovers" her on the street and decides that she's the perfect subject for the documentary about a New York story that he's making for film school. Because a self-involved girl with more pink luggage than one person should rightly have for a month-long stint just screams real "New York."
New York is So Big and Scary!
Sharpay's father doesn't want her to go to the terrible city alone, so he gives her a deadline of a month to make it big before she has to come home and work for him. She hates the idea of working, so she suffers a terrible apartment that most New Yorkers would love and the indignity of just being a doggie-wrangler and personal assistant to a shrew in order to stay in the Big Apple.
A Super Silly Villain
Amber Lee is a "star" who is cast as the lead in the musical. She's billed as the sweetheart type, but she's a bitch when no one is looking. She hates the dogs she has to work with and treats the humans around her like dirt. But she's played by Cameron Goodman, and instead of seeming villainous in the slightest, she just comes off as goofy and pouty.
Particularly Well-Written Dialogue
Not that my expectations were all that high, but I physically cringed when Sharpay's sycophantic minions told her that she should have a reality show called "I Can Wear Anything" because she can wear anything (so long as it is hot pink and sequined). Or when someone said, "Ready isn't as ready as you are." I'm sure the audience that this is geared towards won't care, but the writers could have at least tried a tiny bit.
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