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High School Musical 2 is much slicker than its predecessor, and this works both to the film's advantage and its detriment. On the plus side, the choreographer is much sharper this time around. Many of the early big numbers work like old-school musical numbers from the forties and fifties. The opening set piece, a celebration of summer vacation, showcases the best of what director/choreographer Kenny Ortega can do. The people and the camera move with a kinetic energy that communicates the joy of summer. Spoiled Sharpay's ode to being "Fabulous" joyfully skewers the trendy, flashy fashions surrounding a Paris Hilton wannabe. Where the first film incorporated basketball into a dance, this film has a softball number that ups the ante, pointedly stressing that dancing requires just as much athletic ability as sports. All of these numbers benefit from the bigger budget, and the more assured choreography. Sadly, the blandly generic story makes it a less successful work overall. The story isn't even about a High School Musical; it's about a summer camp talent show performance. So basically the title is now a brand as opposed to a description of the movie. The story, though, boils down to a rather uninspired tale of a boy being tempted away from the girl he loves. The first film, with its message of never being afraid to be who you are even if it means doing things your friends don't expect, offered a satisfying tale of self-respect and self-discovery. This time around the story seems to be getting in the way of the songs instead of being their reason for existing. High School Musical 2 offers many more winning individual moments than the film that inspired it, but the first movie works better as a whole.