Walt Disney Pictures
In cinemas nationwide on 24 October

The first image we see in “HSM3” is a close-up of Zac Efron’s face, dripping with sweat in the midst of an East High basketball game. The first thing we hear, is the holler of a 12 year-old girl in the back row screaming “OH MY GAWD!” as if she has just seen a Beatle. Well, at least that’s what I heard. In the third (and final?) installment of the super-lucrative Disney franchise, the bubble-gum kids of this Arizona high school are in the midst of their final year. There’s the final game, the prom, the yearbook, the promise of college only months away, and, of course, one last big hurrah in the auditorium that is the spring musical. Their final show in the last act plays like an overture for the film; it’s a medley of all the songs and dances that have led up to this pivotal moment. The theme of the production is the kids themselves…who they are, where they have been, and what lies ahead in their futures. I doubt I have to remind our readers of the stock characters who inhabit this teen-bop world. Thanks to the fanatic obsession of JoyHoggers of all ages, we know the players. Or, if by chance you do not, then just think of any high school / coming-of-age comedy and you’re set. It’s not all pretty kids singing though, there are a couple not-so-attractive players (if this were “Mean Girls” we’d label them as fuglies) thrown into the mix for good balance. The big prize at the end of this movie is a scholarship to Julliard for one of four talented seniors. As they each work their little butts off, we see a ton of musical numbers (at least one or two of which is completely superfluous) to achieve that pesky task of exposition and, well, just moving the movie along at a good clip. For my money, the music in #2 was catchier and had a bit more heart to it, but these are fun, too. I’m sure the music and the dancing will invade the cultural spectrum just as expected and the DVDs will be the big must-have for ankle-biters in the new year. If you’re fans of the first two, then you don’t need me to tell you that there’s no holding you back from the cineplex this weekend. If not, start from the top. This is the kind of good, clean fun that the tots of America are in dire need of. And those of us who are above the age of 11 can enjoy it as well. We’ll just be slightly less vocal about our crush on Mr. Efron.