Not everyone can appreciate High School Musical and if someone is daring enough to turn the concept upside down and make it politically incorrect, only a local up-and-coming writer / director Joel McCarthy can. He nicely crafts this teaser of a concept within another story. He’s a graduate of the Motion Picture Arts program at Capilano University, and he presents a mockumentary about how tough it is to find success after film school in a grassroots style movie,
High School: Shooting the Musical.
The real plot is in what kind of measure some folks use to forge ahead. Is this industry so bad where what happens means, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth? The movie is more of a character study about how far Adam Baxter (Bruce Novakowski), a ne’er-do-well movie-making wannabe, will go just to climb ahead. When he decides to steal the posthumous work of his flatmate, a fellow filmmaker Maximus Park (Lee Shorten) who found his fame all too quickly, no one else knows.
When this movie is using the interview format as its point of view for much of the narrative, to understand what’s going on behind the minds of Baxter and his friends works. As cameras follow him in his attempt to turn Park’s work into his own, the turn of events that gets recorded is inevitable. That’s the story that viewers of
High School: Shooting the Musical are getting. To wonder just how nasty this musical that’s being made is, skipping ahead is not an option! Although I had hoped for something along the lines of a horror movie product ala Carrie! The Musical, I thought what was presented was more of a black comedy.
With both narratives, the humour is something that folks can expect from the minds of Trey Parker and Matt Stone, creators of South Park and Cannibal! the Musical. I would place more emphasis with the latter product than their seminal adult cartoon. When I carefully listened to the lyrics, there’s meaning in the verses being heard and what the characters feel in one product can be transposed to another. That’s the brilliance that I liked about this film. And the lyrics reminded me of Queen‘s Bohemian Rhapsody, a song about a tortured individual contemplating suicide. That’s how this film began, because Park realizes nothing, including his fame, really matters to him anymore. When he realizes the monstrosity he created with his latest screenplay, the suicide note he leaves behind was never truly understood.
The documentarian who is making this movie also makes her own realization. In what she holds in high regard about Park does eventually gets juxtaposed to Baxter. To see the fallout is not without some irony. I really have to wonder if he’s going down the same hole too now that he has achieved success. And for what McCarthy as a storyteller understands, he must have graduated with honours in theatre. The characters he’s created have a tortured psyche that requires repeated viewings in order to understand. One screening of
High School Shooting the Musical is not enough.
Thankfully in the screening coming up at Cinecenta, Tuesday April 21st, the Q&A that follows can help answer some questions.