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'HSM3' gets it right

It was "now or never" for the cast of "High School Musical 3: Senior Year." The last installment of the "High School Musical trilogy" debuted Friday with its characters moving on to college and its actors moving on to more mature roles.

The first "High School Musical" was Disney Channel's most watched movie of all time with 7.7 million Americans tuning in for the 2006 premiere. Its soundtrack was the best-selling album of the year. "High School Musical 2" shattered the old record with an audience of 17.3 million for its premiere in 2007; its soundtrack was the second-best selling album of the year. "High School Musical 3," the only one to be shown at theaters, topped the weekend box office with $42 million. The soundtrack has been the No. 1 most purchased album on iTunes since its release last week.

This closing chapter of director Kenny Ortega's HSM series focuses on the end of senior year. Will Troy Bolton (Zach Efron) and Gabrielle Montez (Vanessa Hudgens) break up? Will the musical go on? Where will Troy go to college? Who will get the scholarship to Juilliard? Will Taylor McKessie (Monique Coleman) stop rejecting Chad Danforth's (Corbin Bleu) prom invitations? The 108 minutes flew by quickly enough for even the short attention spans of younger children.

The addition of two new characters added some laughs and drama. Jimmie Zara (Matt Prokop), also known as "the Rocket," added comedy with his self-centered attitude leading him to the belief that Sharpay liked him, and with his innocent lack of theatrical knowledge leading him to a hilarious stint in East High's musical (ironically titled "Senior Year"). Another new cast member introduced drama instead of comedy. Tiara Gold (Jemma McKenzie-Brown) was first introduced as Sharpay Evans's (Ashley Tisdale) new personal assistant, but then the plot took a twist, creating some commotion.

The cast sings in the opening song "Now or Never:" "This is our last chance to get it right." And they definitely did, although there were still a few corny scenes, as to be expected in a G-rated Disney movie. All in all, the HSM trilogy is one of the best musical series of our generation, and the cast will be greatly missed. As Ashley Tisdale told "Good Morning America": "[Filming the last 'High School Musical'] was definitely emotional. [There were] a lot of tears; it was very hard for us. But we have each other for life now, so it's pretty amazing. We're just saying goodbye to our characters, not to each other."

Marissa Florio is a junior at Clarence High School.

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>HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 3: SENIOR YEAR

Rated: G

Review: 3 1/2 stars (out of four)

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