Take a little journey with me and cast your mind back to 2007. It’s a sunny Friday afternoon, you’ve just been picked up from school, and your mum has promised takeout for dinner. The school holidays are looming, and you get to stay up a little later tonight because the movie event of the century is premiering on Disney Channel — High School Musical 2.
By 2007, the world was rife with HSM fever, Zac Efron was the heartthrob of the moment, and parents everywhere were begging to press pause on the soundtrack for just one day.
Not only did the second movie take the whole franchise to the next level, but it also perfected an extremely difficult genre in cinema to nail — the ‘summer movie’.
What is a ‘summer movie’, you ask? Well, it’s a movie encapsulating the feelings of youth, yearning and young love amplified by the heat. Summer movies should make you believe that there’s magic in the air for three months and that anything could happen. Think blue skies, riding your bike down a suburban, tree-lined street as the wind tousles your hair, campfires and coming-of-age regret.
I truly believe the only movie that’s ever pulled all of this off that well is HSM2.
For example, in what universe would a bunch of random teens without an RSA in sight get hired to take over the kitchen of a golf club where investment bankers and lawyers come and spend their summers at? On what planet does a random 16-year-old from Albuquerque just happen to master golf, basketball and the performing arts all at once? Why is there such ample studio and rehearsal space? But alas, it’s summer; anything could happen.
Troy and Gabriella’s messy teenage love, the betrayal and the reunion of friends and, of course, the promise of having the ‘perfect summer’ before everything falls apart when college and life happens is just sooooo bittersweet.
There’s something about the cast’s bright orange fake-tanned skin, the OTT accessorised outfits and the saturated blueness of the water that makes this movie feel like a fever dream — the actual kind of vivid dream you’d have after spending all day in the sun at the beach.
High School Musical 2 literally does all of that, AND it’s set to a backdrop of camp-as-hell musical numbers. ‘Fabulous’? Simply iconic. ‘Bet On it’? The meme of the century. ‘What Time Is It’? Quite possibly the most enthusiastic piece of music about summer of all time.
I know our Aussie summer is slowly dwindling, but I propose that come December 2023, we all aspire to have a summer as ridiculous, over the top and bloody stunning as High School Musical 2.
Maybe the closest I’ll ever get to having my Troy and Gabriella frolicking-around-a-golf-course moment is sitting on the grassy knoll at North Bondi, stuffing my face with Oporto chippies and Prego sauce as the sun sets.