Over Christmas vacation, I watched two Austin Butler films: Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure, and Elvis. I had seen Sharpay in the past, but this was my first outing with 2022’s Elvis. As entertaining as all the social media pics of Butler on Disney and Nickelodeon are, they really just prove his versatility. He can be Sharpay’s bestie-turned-boyfriend and the King of rock and roll. He’s convincing as a beach-blond teen and as a pivotal historical figure. People contain multitudes.
I’ll admit that Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure isn’t the most entertaining DCOM I’ve watched lately. But really, it was a direct-to-DVD film that was later labeled a DCOM when it aired on Disney Channel. I’d imagine it might be hard — or at least kind of weird — to follow three huge High School Musical movies without your castmates, but Ashley Tisdale carries her movie well. She doesn’t lose the true essence of Sharpay; I think she actually sharpens the inner strength of Sharpay, since the character is forced to be resourceful in a new environment. Okay, throwing money at a problem and massively redecorating a NYC studio apartment might not be everyone’s idea of “resourceful.” And Amber Lee Adams isn’t super believable as a megastar. But for an hour+ of pink sparkles, cute dogs, and Gabe from Good Luck Charlie (Bradley Steven Perry), this is fun.
As NYU student Peyton, Austin Butler is tasked with showing Sharpay around the city and helping her get set up. I think they’re a good pair, and I wonder what it would have been like for Butler to lead his own DCOM. He has to fill some pretty big shoes in this one with Ryan absent — until the end. Lucas Grabeel’s special appearance didn’t make the Disney+ cut, sadly. Fun facts: Michael Lembeck, who directed this film, also directed The Santa Clause 2 and 3, and writer Robert Horn wrote the Teen Beach movies and The Suite Life Movie. If you’re an HSM fan, do you also like this movie?