Back to High School

A few weeks ago, my daughter Sydney wrote “The Best Day of My Life” on our family calendar. The date was Friday, August 17. What, you ask, would prompt such an effusive declaration? Was it a planned trip to a memorable location, maybe a museum or amusement park? Was it a day spent frolicking with her beloved family? Was she going to a Reds game?

No. It was the debut of “High School Musical 2” on the Disney Channel.

Our house has been overrun with High School Musical (HSM) fever. Sydney first caught the bug several months ago and instantly went into fanatic mode, gobbling up anything that had to do with HSM. My sweet little girl became a star stalker, learning every minute detail about HSM star Ashley Tisdale, just in case she made in on “Jeopardy” and had to know Tisdale’s birthday, favorite color, or hat size. (I’m hoping, with a few more mentions of Ashley Tisdale, to spike the number of hits on this blog to over 1,000. Ashley. Tisdale.)

You have to give Disney credit. They know how to market a movie. Once HSM was on our radar screen, we realized its merchandise was ubiquitous. I mean, it was everywhere. HSM T-shirts at the mall. HSM posters at Wal-Mart. HSM motor oil at Pep Boys. Ok, that’s not true. They only had HSM transmission fluid.

And HSM continues the tradition of Disney movies with missing parents. In this one, Gabriella (the Juliet to Troy Bolton’s Romeo) has a single mom. No dad in the picture, but that’s par for the Disney course. Bambi had a promiscuous deadbeat dad, leaving Bambi’s mom to do the deer-rearing (that’s fun to say out loud). Cinderella was under the thumb of her wicked stepmother; no father in sight. Ariel, the Little Mermaid, had King Triton for a dad, but no mom. In “Beauty and the Beast,” Belle had a single dad. Does Disney have something against nuclear families? Where were Snow White’s parents? Or Aladdin’s?

And when they do dare to have two parents in the picture, one usually gets killed. Bambi’s mom. Dead. Simba’s dad. Dead. Nemo’s mom. Dead. Kinda morbid for a kid-friendly mega-conglomerate, if you ask me.

Unfortunately for parents of most 8- to 14-year-olds, it looks like no one in the HSM gang is going to be killed off anytime soon. Pity. HSM 2 was a continuation of the platonic tween love and “Mean Girls” catfighting that my wife and I saw in the original. At least 100 times. A week.

To be honest, I actually liked the music from the first one. The songs on the second one (yes, it’s only been out one day,and not only do we ready own the soundtrack, Sydney has memorized most of the songs) don’t seem quite as catchy, but once you’re heard them a gazillion times, they begin to grow on you. What’s most important is that Sydney really seems to enjoy it, and even her little sister Molly pays attention.

And the best news of all? This is absolutely no joke. Coming in Fall 2008 to a theater near you: High School Musical 3. May Mickey have mercy on our souls.

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