The movie Grease is a popular musical known for its upbeat songs and outstanding cast. The storyline is about two teenagers who meet and share a connection. However, they struggle to embrace their feelings for each other due to the different social ties holding them back at school. High School Musical 1 follows a similar storyline about two teenagers fighting social stereotypes to fulfill their passions in multiple activities. Although both movies tell similar stories, High School Musical 1 is much cleaner, has a wider recommended age range, and is entertaining for most ages. An editor, Millea (2018), described the feature by explaining, “One generation’s joy can be another generation’s torment” (p. 16). Movie enthusiasts of all ages can find one way or another to connect to the moving picture. This film is also received high ratings for how relatable it is and for the social life lessons that can be learned.
High School Musical 1 is about two teenagers, Troy and Gabriella, who meet while singing karaoke at a New Years party. They eventually find out that they are in the same homeroom class after Gabriella transfers to Troy’s high school. Troy is the team captain on the basketball team and Gabriella is on the school’s decathlon team. Both students find joy in singing but are brought to shame by friends and family members when they auditioned for their school’s winter musical. Besides the building relationship between Troy and Gabriella, this film is also about the other students at East High and their journey to accepting all personalities and passions.
Unlike Grease, High School Musical 1 is very clean in terms of language and appearance. There is no swearing throughout the entire movie. All of the clothing is modest and appropriate except for in one scene, Zac Efron, the actor playing Troy, has his shirt off. There are no inappropriate romantic scenes. The two main characters Troy and Gabriella, who are dating, show their affections for one another by holding hands or hugging. According to a website (2007), the journalists acknowledged, ‘If you didn’t know they were dating, you wouldn’t know they were dating. They’re really good at not being obvious’ (Dyball et al., p. 64). At the end of the movie, Troy and Gabriella come close to kissing but are interrupted by other students.
This uplifting and clean movie allows the recommended age for watching to be lowered. A website confirmed that the recommended age for watching is eight years old and older (Maher, 2019, n.p.). Most people enjoy watching this movie because of the dramatic, entertaining characters and the overall cleanliness. Many adults appreciate this movie because they can relate it to their time and experiences when they were in high school. Teenagers and tweens relate to the film because it is an example of the trials they are currently going through in middle school and high school. Finally, most children enjoy this movie because of the energetic songs.
The social aspects of this movie are very relatable and realistic, especially for teens and tweens. Roberts, the reporter, commented that, “Its appeal to tweens is innate, striking almost every psychographic chord manifest in the pimpled population … (including) adolescent angst about fitting in” (2006, p. 44). It is relatable to this age because, in this moment of life, most teenagers attempt not to be seen as an outcast. This movie represents the restrictions that adolescents feel as they are trying to discover who they are while, in the process, trying not to be rejected by their classmates. Many students today struggle to find friends or groups who share all of the same interests. There are specific stereotypes of high school students which are perfectly represented in High School Musical 1. In the movie, Troy and Gabriella are very talented high schoolers who share a passion for music. This passion for music is hidden while at school until they both embrace it by auditioning for their school’s winter musical. The two teens face challenges when they get callbacks. Their separate friend groups shame them into believing that they should only focus on one subject they excel at.
High School Musical 1 exceptionally portrays the social pressures found in schools. The author Maher argued that “The only thing that really detracts from the movie is the sugar-coated way that it portrays issues that regularly cause teens angst, such as entrenched cliques, self-esteem, and peer pressure” (2019, n.p.). Social pressures and cliques are a very serious deal that occurs in almost every school. This video does sugar-coat the effects that can be caused by these events. In this movie, a few of the main characters peer pressure other students into staying with one social group. They sing the song “Stick to the Status Quo.” In this song, a few students at the school express their unique passions outside of their social or talent group, while the rest of the student body express there should be no changes in these group boundaries. Stick to the status quo is defined as to make no changes. In the lyrics of the song, it stated, “If you wanna be cool; follow one simple rule; don’t mess with the flow, no-no; stick to the status quo” (Greenberg & Lawrence, 2006, n.p.). These lyrics suggest that being different is not popular and creates a halt in natural social groups. Being peer pressured is a serious act that is found throughout this movie.
Towards the end of the movie, however, the students learn to be respectful of each others’ favored activities. Gabriella’s decathlon team and Troy’s basketball team collaborate to confirm both of them can participate in all the activities they love. Both teams recognized that the couple was very unhappy when one of their favored student activities was unavailable to them. The teams worked together and realized that people can have more than one hobby. This teaches the valuable lesson that people should be supported in their decisions, and they should be happy for other peoples’ happiness.
High School Musical 1 has many relatable events and scenes shown. The overall movie is enjoyable and interesting because many people can relate to the struggles the characters face throughout the movie. Like the 1978 movie Grease, the storyline is simple yet has many elements to it. It is clean and entertaining because of the appropriate language, lively music, and valuable lessons. After watching this movie, it invites the viewers to progress in learning the story of Troy and Gabriella by watching the second movie in the series, High School Musical 2.