High School Musical, Girl Power Princesses and an Old School Sleuth.

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It's a tidal wave.

Of music.

Of dance.

Of earnestness.

And it will take over virtually every American home in which a 'tween-aged girl -- and occasional boy - resides as of August 17. For all of you who do not have a person between the ages of 8-12 in your household, allow me to enlighten you: August 17 is the premiere date for the Disney Channel's much anticipated TV movie, "High School Musical 2."

Who cares about a made-for-TV sequel for pre-teens? Well, judging by the success of the first film, the original "High School Musical" (think "Grease," only without sex, profanity, drag racing or Olivia
Newton John's leather hot pants) millions of people care. The "High School Musical" franchise you see, has a gravitational pull of its own. Look at the numbers: According to USA Today, this thoroughly wholesome flick about an extraordinarily brainy girl and a basketball star boy who fall in love and beat back high school stereotypes in order to try out for their school's musical has been seen by an
estimated 160 million people since its January 2006 premiere. Its DVD and CD sales have earned Disney over a half a BILLION dollars. Its soundtrack was the number one CD of any genre in 2006. It has spawned an ice show and over 2,000 theatrical productions across the country.

The mega-hyped arrival of "High School Musical 2" caps a summer of some pretty decent fare when it comes to providing kids --girls specifically -- with positive messages about strength and intellect, a
refreshing antithesis to the summer's real-world cautionary tales playing out on national newscasts about young DUI/drug addled starlets.

The original "High School Musical," which continues to post monster ratings for the Disney Channel, has a premise a working mom could appreciate: Gabriella Montez (Vanessa Anne Hudgens) plays a super-smart teenaged girl who moves to a new high school in the middle of the school year because her mother got a job transfer, which the single mom promised would be the last one until her daughter graduates. Gabriella falls for Troy Bolton (Zac Efron), who's the star player for his championship- destined basketball team coached by his father. Both teens fight stereotypes - smart kids must only love books, jocks are dumb, cheerleaders are brainless, etc.- and demonstrate to their peers that anyone can be anything. There's even a token pregnant chemistry teacher thrown in the mix.

While encore "HSM" showings dot cable TV schedules, this summer, movie theaters offered up a couple of films emphasizing to the younger set that girls can not only be wise and determined, but they can kick some serious behind.

Take "Shrek 3." Ho-hum. Another sequel. The ogre's green mug was plastered over seemingly every food item in grocery stores coast-to-coast, prompting children of all ages to pine for items like
LALAWYER
12.17.07

The SHREK 3 power princesses were a great twist. Nicely done.

SFMOM2
12.17.07

This weekend I was going to introduce my kids to Grease because they love HSM so much -- but as I was previewing it -- I was reminded that it has way too much adult content. Lot's of sexual references, smoking, etc. HSM is way more age appropriate for younger kids.

Samantha
12.17.07

I never thought of it that way. It was like a hammer over the head that girls are smart with Gabriella being the "math freak," but you are right, Disney did a pretty good job quietly sending a pro working mom message through the parent roles as well.

CEO
08.17.07

I don't even care who knows. My kids love High School Musical. At ages 5 and 7 they may be too young -- but I see no harm. The truth is, I think I like the movie even more than they do.  The music is fantastic. I love the fact that the math teacher is pregnant and that Gabriella's mom is a single working mother. And dare I admit it, I think Troy is kinda hot. Given my age that is just terribly sad. But true.