Friends, I have made no secret of the fact that Sharpay and Ryan of the High School Musical trilogy (Ashley Tisdale and Lucas Grabeel) are near and dear to my heart (even though I have no love for the movies in a general sense).
Although I haven’t done an entry on them for this blog, the latest film in the franchise, the spin-off Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure, which was neither very fabulous nor very Sharpay, and which just arrived on Disney Channel, brought up a few matters I thought I would address in a timely manner.
I am not going to recap or review the movie – that wouldn’t make sense. It wasn’t very good and in my opinion it never should have been made, but those things come as no surprise and I could have told them to you last summer when I first heard about it. I don’t blame Ashley Tisdale or Disney for making it – kids’ll like it matter what, and it’s all about the money anyway. I get it, and I’m not bitter.
At the very least I’m happy that Sharpay is the one character who got a movie that’s all about her.
In the majority of the promotional and publicity images for the franchise, they are tied together.
In HSM 1, Ryan is Sharpay’s less-bright sidekick (Pinky to Sharpay’s Brain), and almost all of their scenes are together.
Even though Sharpay shows obvious romantic interest in Troy Bolton (Zac Efron’s character), she tries to defeat him and Gabriella Montez and obtain the lead roles in the school’s latest production for her and her brother.
General spoiler warning.
At the beginning of the film, Ryan is shown to be 1) not blind to her faults, but 2) still her biggest fan.
In the third film, Ryan and Sharpay are allied once again, but there’s a shift in the dynamic as Ryan turns his focus away from performing to choreography. She expects his help in securing the best song in the spring production for herself, but he’s reluctant to betray his new friends and he doesn’t quite trust her.
She serenades him with promises of their glorious future, with special emphasis on their unity and partnership and the shared nature of that future.
He sort of slides through the movie without ever having to make much of a choice. I always got the sense that he wanted to help her, if he could only get her to be more reasonable. That’s why there are so many scenes of him holding his hands up in exasperation and puzzlement:
And, of course, they end the series on good terms.
At the end of HSM3, Ryan gets the coveted spot at Julliard, and Sharpay doesn’t. But she says that he deserves it.
In Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure, Sharpay takes off for New York to make her dreams come true. Since Ryan is 1) her brother, and 2) also in New York, I thought it would make sense if he made an appearance. Even just a small one. In fact, I thought it would be quite odd if he wasn’t in it at all.
Well, I wouldn’t even have watched the movie at all if I wasn’t holding out some hope for a sighting of Ryan, or an important mention of him.
Alas, nothing. What the hell, people? Was Lucas Grabeel really so busy he couldn’t spare a day or two? There are zero excuses. Both parents are in the film, for hell’s sake. In fact, Sharpay’s love interest is the son of one of her mother’s friends and was sent to check on her! Why wouldn’t her own brother check on her – I mean, he’s in the city!!!!
ETA: Apparently there’s a version of the movie where he does appear, during the credits. I guess it was a deleted scene or something. (YOU DELETED RYAN????).
That’s better that nothing, but still not what it should have been.
Well, whatever. But, he wasn’t ignored completely: 1) except for the parents, Ryan is the only character from the HSM movies that is mentioned (granted, not by name) and 2) soundtrack. Lucas Grabeel is amply represented on the Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure soundtrack. That rendition of “Baby” you hear while the dogs have their romantic afternoon is NOT Justin Bieber – it’s Lucas Grabeel.
So, if you go purely by the soundtrack, it’s like Ryan is a huge part of the movie.
Jake Pearson, I say.
If you’re still confused, check out my entry on that movie. So, I have to love that the guy they hired to play her love interest is the guy who played her cousin in another movie.
But that’s not even the best part.
What do you notice about Austin Butler, aka TLI (the love interest)?
TLI makes all of the moves with Sharpay, and she does a combination of taking advantage of him and tolerating him.
Sharpay isn’t a nice person in the HSM movies. Her moments of humility and humanity are always washed away and she begins each new movie reset. But she was talented, and she worked hard, and she knew what she wanted and she went for it.
And for those reasons, I always thought there was a certain amount that she deserved. Troy and Gabriella were dilettantes, but because they were protagonists, they always won. And Sharpay, because she was a bitch, always lost. In the grand scheme of the movies, she really got the shaft.
She was a little too nice, not quite proactive or ruthless enough. Not quite rude enough, truth be told.
She came off more as plucky, optimistic, and spoiled, maybe a little mischievous.
But she finally got her big break, so that much was good.
It has come to my attention that Ryan does have a bit of a cameo. Here’s a description from Wikipedia that gave me a good laugh:
At the end of Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure, Ryan is on a break from his musical tour around the country and pays a visit to his sister Sharpay after she became a star on Broadway to congratulate her. While Sharpay goes to chase Boi, Ryan enjoys her bed until it folds back into the closet, taking Ryan with it.
“Ryan enjoys her bed?”
I’ve got to see this.
I also want to append my Ryan/Sharpay fanfictions:
IN VINO VERITAS
(My Archive Of Our Own and Fanfiction.net profiles are linked in the sidebar, for future reference.)