First Takes |

First Takes

Internet and AP reports

In this image released by Disney Enterprises, Zac Efron, left, and Vanessa Hudgens are shown in a scene from, "High School Musical 3." (AP Photo/Disney Enterprises, Inc. Fred Hayes) ** NO SALES **

“High School Musical 3: Senior Year” ” Someday, Troy and Gabriella will actually open their mouths when they kiss. Someday, Sharpay won’t have backup dancers magically appear out of nowhere during her self-glorifying production numbers. But for now, everything about the “High School Musical” series remains safely wholesome and intact, even as it makes the leap from TV to the big screen.

All those winsome East High Wildcats are back from parts one and two of the freakishly successful Disney Channel franchise ” Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Corbin Bleu, et al. ” as are mad-genius director Kenny Ortega and writer Peter Barsocchini. Only now, they have more expensive toys to play with, so the production values are glossier and the musical numbers are splashier.

But even as part three wallows in nostalgia, with the kids preparing for prom and clinging to their senior year, it’s also clearly meant as a launching pad for the grown-up career of the dreamy Efron; one big dance sequence makes it obvious why he was chosen to star in the remake of “Footloose.”

Will it win any new fans? Doubtful. If you’re not the parent, aunt or uncle of a 9-year-old, you’ve probably managed to keep the whole “HSM” phenomenon at the periphery of your consciousness, and you’ll continue to do so. But for those kids in the target audience, this is, like movie nirvana. And the adults forced to schlep with them to the multiplex? They’ll find it surprisingly tolerable. The “HSM” kids are so good-looking and high-energy, you may as well surrender to their manipulative ways.

G. 108 min. Two and a half stars out of four.

“Pride and Glory” ” Everything about this dirty-cop thriller is formulaic and forgettable, even down to its generic title.

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“Pride and Glory” could be an uplifting drama about a basketball team breaking racial barriers, or it could be about an elite squadron of World War II fighter pilots. You’d never know the difference and it wouldn’t matter anyway.

Instead, it’s an overlong saga of good and bad New York police officers battling for control, one that that plays out both in back alleys and quiet suburbs. Edward Norton and Colin Farrell star as brothers-in-law and brothers in blue. When a cop killer takes down four of their comrades, years of schemes and resentments come bubbling to the surface. It’s no secret who’s on which side: Norton’s Detective Ray Tierney is the honorable one and Farrell’s Jimmy Egan, who’s married to Ray’s sister (Lake Bell), is on the take. But Ray’s older brother, Francis (Noah Emmerich), whose men were killed in the ambush, is also a factor, as is patriarch Francis Tierney Sr. (Jon Voight), the head of the detective division.’

These are Irish cops, and just to pile on the cliches, Ray and Jimmy have a climactic, knock-down-drag-out brawl in an Irish bar with Irish music blaring in the background. At Christmas, no less! If director Gavin O’Connor’s film sounds familiar, that’s probably because it’s a lot like “We Own the Night,” which came out almost exactly a year ago. Joaquin Phoenix was the black-sheep brother, Mark Wahlberg was a young police captain on the rise and Robert Duvall was their intimidating, veteran-lawman father. That movie was just as much of a throwaway, despite its similar pretensions of Greek tragedy.

R for strong violence, pervasive language and brief drug content. 140 min. One and a half stars out of four.

‘Saw V’

One man must go on the hunt to eliminate all loose ends to carry on the Jigsaw legacy.

188 min. R for sequences of grisly bloody violence and torture, language and brief nudity.