Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure (Blu-ray Combo Pack)
Directed by Michael Lembeck
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 89 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; Dolby Digital 5.1 French, Spanish
Subtitles: SDH, French, Spanish
MSRP: $ 39.99
Release Date: April 19, 2011
Review Date: April 12, 2011
Never work with children or animals, so the saying goes, and that might have been a wise homily for actress Ashley Tisdale to have paid attention to before fashioning Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure, a continuation of the character she created in the High School Musical trilogy of films. The animals and children aren’t really the main problem here, of course; that would simply have been a convenient excuse to ditch the project before it began filming. The problems here can be traced to a feeble script which doesn’t have an original idea within it and a leading lady who just doesn’t have what it takes on which to build a major movie project. As a supporting villainess in the High School Musical films, the character of Sharpay had her usefulness, and within a narrow range of emotions, Ashley Tisdale did just fine with her, but as the star of this film, Sharpay’s character is de-fanged and made into a conventional and rather witless protagonist, and Ashley Tisdale doesn’t have enough complexity as an actress to make her at all interesting. What’s worse, the film betrays her limited singing and dancing talents, another misstep in formulating a film around the character and her portrayer.
After entertaining for her parents’ country club benefit, Sharpay Evans (Ashley Tisdale) is presented with an invitation to come to New York to audition for a Broadway show about to start production. Her father (Robert Curtis Brown) is reluctant to let her go but gives her one month to make a success of her New York sojourn. Once there, she is horrified to find out the talent scout had only been impressed with her dog Boi and that he is the one who has scored an audition for the show A Girl’s Best Friend. Sharpay and Boi are in competition with smug twelve-year old Roger Elliston (Bradley Steven Perry) and his dog Countess for the open spot in the show which is starring noted diva Amber Lee Adams (Cameron Goodman). The conniving Amber actually hates dogs and is looking for any excuse to have them written out of the show. Sharpay is being watched over in New York by NYU student filmmaker Peyton Leverett (Austin Butler) who dislikes seeing the change coming over Sharpay as she struggles to make inroads in her fight to get Boi into the show.
The script by Robert Horn has about half a dozen funny lines to stretch over the almost ninety-minute film (for example, a Murphy bed is described as a “closet with a tongue”) with a few yawn-inducing musical numbers also sprinkled about. In that regard, the best one is the dog’s audition number for the show “Me and My Boi” (nicely staged and shot by director Michael Lembeck) along with Sharpay’s eleven ‘clock number “New York’s Best Kept Secret.” As for the rest, from Sharpay’s opening benefit extravaganza “Gonna Shine” to the closing “The Rest of My Life,” the music is uninspired and the performances forced and not very lyrical. Tisdale’s singing is thin and reedy; she’s really not the diva she’s portrayed in the High School Musical films though the insipid songs in this effort are likely what have betrayed her. As for the predictable story, yes, the dogs fall in love (puppy love: who saw that coming?) and Sharpay and her guardian angel Peyton have a predictable falling out late in the film before finally realizing what every viewer knew was going to happen from the start. The tween audience for whom this was made may likely find it all exciting and fun, but there is very little here for anyone watching past the preteen years.
Aside from Ashley Tisdale’s near monopoly on the singing and prancing (no one else gets a solo), Austin Butler keeps that perpetual smile going full blast almost throughout (except from that one blow up with Sharpay). Two wonderful character actors are completely wasted with inferior material. Jack Plotnick as the show’s book writer and Alec Mapa as the show’s director could have taken the film to another level had they been given comic business worthy of their abilities. Bradley Steven Perry plays the bratty kid who’s Sharpay’s competitor, undergoing a complete personality change late in the film as if Frankenstein himself had replaced his brain with another. Cameron Goodman’s narcissistic star Amber plays right to the core of that cliché eliciting no surprises or freshness with her efforts.
The made-for-TV movie is framed at 1.78:1 and is presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. Colors are bright and nicely saturated, and with pink being Sharpay’s favorite color, the disc does an excellent job differentiating between the assorted hues. Flesh tones are also natural and nicely presented. Sharpness is the transfer’s most notable area of concern. It’s clear but never as sharp as one might expect from a film this current. Black levels are also only slightly above average and not exemplary. The film has been divided into 19 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix is something of a disappointment. Though some of the orchestrations for the music allow sound to be fed into the rear channels, the remainder of the movie is almost completely frontcentric with very unimaginative sound design. There’s not much bass in the mix, and the soundstage doesn’t have much expanse. Even on outside locations, there are no ambient sounds to give a sense of busy New York City streets. Dialogue is certainly cleanly recorded and resides clearly in the center channel.
“The Evolution of Sharpay” is a 9-minute series of sound bites from actress Ashley Tisdale about the changes in her character from the earlier trilogy to this film. Most of this featurette, however, is devoted to clips from all four films where the character has appeared (and reminding us that Ashley’s on-screen brother played by Lucas Grabeel does not appear in the film at all, even if he does sing “Baby” on the soundtrack). It’s in 1080p.
“Austin Cam” finds co-star Austin Butler sharing some of the video footage he shot during the making of the movie (his character is a student filmmaker who always carries around his camcorder). The footage is presented in 1080p.
There is a 1 ¼-minute blooper reel of the dogs misbehaving on camera which breaks up the stars.
There are 1080p trailers for Cars 2, The Lion King, Prom, The Fox & the Hound, Bambi II, and Shake It Up.
The second disc in the package is the DVD version of the movie.
2/5 (not an average)
It’s not surprising that Disney attempted to keep characters from their biggest made-for-TV franchise going with Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure, but the result really wasn’t worth the effort. Above average video and average audio along with the sparse, fluffy bonus material make a disc that’s impossible to recommend to any but the most loyal fans of the lead character or actress.