FOR millions – literally millions! – of teenage girls all over the world, this week sees them reach a milestone in their lives which will rank alongside graduating, getting married, having a child, getting a divorce!

Right up there with all those life changing events will be the day they got to see Troy, Gabriella, Sharpay and Chad on the big screen in all their glory.

We know this because they have already turned HSM3 into a mega-hit before it even reaches a theatre. Senior Year has earned the accolade of becoming the most successful pre-booked film of all time, beating the Harry Potter series to a Disneyfied pulp.

And I know this personally because I have already been brow-beaten into pre-booking a screening for a nine-strong gang of teenagers who will worship at the altars of stars Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale and Corbin Bleu one last time.

At least, that’s what Disney would have us believe but I just cannot see them resisting the temptation to do HSM 4: Freshman Year when they see just how much cash this picture is going to rake in.

The first two chapters, of course, were shown on the Disney Channel but the studio has never been slow to recognise a money-spinner when they see one so now they can look forward to box office and DVD sales before it even reaches the small screen.

Although the film inevitably recycles some of the songs which its target audience knows by heart, the story taps into some universal teenage concerns as the friendship groups at the heart of the franchise face the prospect of breaking up as they go their separate ways to college.

Not surprisingly, they decide to use such concerns as the basis of a new musical “to address their experiences, hopes and fears about their future”!


GHOST TOWN (12A) (All major cinemas)

WILL Ricky Gervais end up inhabiting the graveyard reserved for all British TV comedy stars who loused up their one shot at Hollywood movie fame?

Lenny Henry, Robert Lindsay and Rowan Atkinson are just some of those who had the chance to broaden their appeal across the pond but couldn’t quite make the breakthrough.

Gervais certainly has a good chance after the huge success of both The Office and Extras but there has already been criticism of the way he has played it safe with a by-the-numbers fantasy comedy.

It starts out well with him playing an anti-social dentist who is openly rude because he hates people and wants to keep them at arm’s length. But then he starts to see dead people who are so delighted to make contact with someone from the land of the living, they bombard him with attention.

Enter deceased Greg Kinnear as a ghost who makes him an offer he can’t refuse: he’ll keep the rest of the spirits off Gervais’ back if Gervais agrees to rescue Kinnear’s widow Tea Leoni from remarriage with a scumbag.

But the picture eventually bottles it by making Gervais’ character more cuddly than he really needed to be.


SAW V (18) (All major cinemas)

NEEDLESS to say, there are no advance previews or reviews on what is allegedly the final instalment in the ultra-gory series.

“You won’t believe how it ends” screams the tagline which accompanies a poster obscured by the claim that it has been censored from public view because it is so horrific!

Such crude techniques are all the producers need because they know they are tapping into a built-in audience that is unlikely to include anyone who hasn’t sampled at least one previous chapter.

Tobin Bell crops up again as the inventively murderous Jigsaw although the main focus of attention is Costas Mandylor (very briefly touted as a future star during the early 90s) as seemingly the last person alive to carry on the Jigsaw legacy.