11 classic movies to watch if you were obsessed with "High School Musical" as a teen
Disney Channel’s High School Musical celebrates its 12th anniversary this month. Premiering on January 20th, 2006, we were introduced to then-obscure Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens as star-crossed lovers Troy and Gabriella from different high school circles.
A basketball jock succumbed to the “It’s Not My Dream, Dad; It’s Yours!” archetype prevalent in 2000 films, Troy discovers his love for singing thanks to new student Gabriella, and they join the school musical. Facing typical obstacles as a result of straying from the status quo, High School Musical graces us with cafeteria ballads referencing crème brulee, siblings bopping to the top, and unabashedly discovering your true self. It was the perfect film for our coming-of-age teen selves.
While we often outgrow our teen interests (hello, fellow Hot Topic band tee enthusiasts who revered My Chemical Romance in angst), High School Musical appears to have withstood the test of time. It’s still regarded as a cult classic among young adults. Name one 20-something-year-old who no longer belts along to “Breaking Free” or “Start of Something New.” That’s right. You just can’t. It’s unheard of.
To celebrate the film’s 12th anniversary, we’ve compiled a list of classic films to watch if you were obsessed with High School Musical as a teen. From modern versions like 2016’s La La Land to 1961’s West Side Story, these musicals will nourish your musical-loving souls.
Dirty Dancing, 1987
Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze take on the iconic roles as Baby and Johnny, two people who fall in love at a sleepy summer resort when they become dancing partners to take on the last dance of the summer. Nobody puts Baby in a corner in this ’80s classic.
Across the Universe, 2007
Evan Rachel Wood and Jim Sturgess star in this love story set against the turmoil of the Vietnam War, providing themes of war and peace during the turbulent ’60s with songs solely from The Beatles.
Almost Famous, 2000
Patrick Fugit plays 15-year-old William Miller in Cameron Crowe’s cult-classic film set in the ’70s. William’s love of music (cultivated by his older sister, played by the lovely Zooey Deschanel) results in an assignment for Rolling Stone magazine to profile the band Stillwater.
West Side Story, 1961
Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer star as Maria and Tony in this modern-day Romeo and Juliet classic about two teens from rival street gangs who fall in love.
Funny Face, 1957
Audrey Hepburn stars as Jo, a bookstore employee who meets Fred Astaire’s Dick, a fashion photographer. Believing Jo has the potential as a successful model, the two fall in love against the backdrop of dreamy Paris.
La La Land, 2016
Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling star as Mia and Sebastian in Damien Chazelle’s love letter to Los Angeles. In this 2016 romance, the two grapple with love and success in the city of stars.
Moulin Rouge!, 2001
Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor shine in this Baz Luhrmann romance set in the infamous Parisian nightclub, Moulin Rouge. A poet falls in love with the star of Moulin Rouge; c’est romantique!
The Sound of Music, 1965
Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer star as Maria and Baron von Trapp in this classic set against Nazi Germany’s siege of Austria. Between the scenic mountain views and singing Von Trapp clan, you’ll fall in love.
Singin’ in the Rain, 1952
Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds star as Don and Kathy in this classic musical set in 1920s Hollywood when silent films are transitioning to sound. A popular silent film star, Don falls for chorus girl Kathy, the real star behind Jean Hagen’s Lina Lamont.
Nikki Blonsky stars as Tracy Turnblad in this musical featuring an ensemble cast. Set against 1960s Baltimore, dancer Tracy auditions for and wins on The Corny Collins Show. When she becomes an overnight sensation, Tracy seeks to end racial segregation on the show.
Mamma Mia, 2008
Based on the Broadway musical, Meryl Streep and Amanda Seyfried star as mother-daughter duo Donna and Sophie. Hoping to find her father, Sophie invites three men from Donna’s past so her father could escort her down the aisle on her wedding day. Mamma Mia 2 is slated for a summer release.