Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure is not a great movie. I get the idea of doing a spin-off of the HSM trilogy as it was still relatively popular but the problem is that so many of the character’s stories had reached a satisfying conclusion. So, that leaves with only Sharpay to give a spin-off film to. Yes, we have a film where the original villain is now the character we are meant to root for. This is something that we have seen with other films where a villain becomes the main character if a villain is given a movie where they are meant to be rootable, there has to be a villain that is worse than the original villain. This can go one of two ways if we are to look to Disney’s big-budget villain films, we can see two examples in King Stefan and The Baroness
The former is an example of what is known as adaptional villainy, which is when a character that wasn’t originally made a villain is turned into one. This is a common trope for villain origin movies possibly popularized by Wicked. Whereas if we look at the character of The Baroness from Cruella, The Baroness is a mirror reflection of Cruella (in more ways than one) and is dialed up even more. That is what we get in many ways with Amber Lee Adams and I’m not sure if it works. Sharpay falls into the category of lovable villain and I believe that is why so many people consider her the best character in the trilogy but when you are presented with a villain for Sharpay to go up against, you have to them just as manipulative if not more so than Sharpay was. This film tries but the big issue is that Sharpay had a charm that made it easy to get on her side whereas the villain in this piece isn’t the fun kind of diva that Sharpay was. I think it also hurts that she doesn’t have any villain songs.
Looking at Goodman’s filmography, it looks as though this was only her second film and has mostly stuck to tv work. That’s cool and turns out she was an episode of Phineas and Ferb. That’s neat.
Amber Lee Adams falls into a trope that can best be described as evil actor or never meet your heroes. Think Darla Dimple from Cats Don’t Dance but not as deranged.
The other part of never meet your idols comes in because, in the beginning, we learn that Sharpay idolizes Amber Lee Adams. She is supposedly a big Broadway star in this universe.
We meet Amber after Sharpay and her dog (this is important) audition for her dog to get a part in the musical. She is so fake in how she acts towards everyone and puts on too much of a front.
Okay, so her grand desire is quite dumb! We’ve gone from a villain that wants it all to a villain that wants to replace that villain to a villain that doesn’t want to be upstaged by dogs.
I may not have seen every Disney Channel Original Movie but this is one of the dumbest motivations I’ve come across in one of these movies. She wants a Broadway musical that is about a girl and her dog rewritten to where the dogs are no longer a part of the show. She says at one point in the film in a tirade against the dogs that are up for the role of the best friend that her name is the one on the marquee and she is who people are paying to see.
Yeah, she’s not wrong but the motivation for hating dogs is just so cliche and it is a lazy way to get the audience to root against the villain. It’s such a major crutch to rely on that. In many ways, this is the type of motivation that people think Sharpay has if they never watched the original film. Sure, Sharpay’s motivation may not be that deep but they don’t use such a dumb crutch. And the thing is, this could have worked if Amber was an entertaining character but she’s really not. She feels less like a character and more something that is just meant to drive the story.
Most Evil Deed
Weirdly, Amber’s most evil deed in my opinion doesn’t even have to do with the show. But rather, it’s a small moment after Sharpay agrees to be Amber’s assistant. There is a scene during this montage where we see Amber has Sharpay clean her toilet. And later on, Amber is reveling in this. To quote another Disney Channel character.
Yeah turns out, that toilet didn’t even need cleaning. This encapsulates how Amber believes she can make people do whatever she wants. Once again, tying back into how she is meant to be a mirror reflection of Sharpay but worse.
At a preview of the show, Sharpay along with another kid whose dog is up for the role bake up a plan to reveal Amber’s true nature by smearing raw chicken over her shoes and that gets her annoyed with the dogs and starts throwing a tantrum about working with the dogs, not realizing her mic is on. And the preview audience hears this and turns on her. This causes Amber to quit and you’d like to think since Twitter is mentioned in its film, that someone would’ve caught this but if she’s as big a star as the film claims, she’ll easily bounce back.
Is Amber Lee Adams A Good Villain?
She’s the lamest villain that we’ve looked at thus far. Her motivation is just such a simple crutch that feels like a cheat to make people root against her. It feels like they couldn’t figure out a way to include a villain in a Sharpay-focused movie. Well, the movie is about Sharpay trying to make it on her own in NYC, so I’m not sure if the movie really needed a villain. Why not just the focus be on Sharpay trying to make it and prove herself, which she does but instead include obstacles she has to overcome on her own. Sure, it’s easy to argue that Sharpay might come across someone like this on her journey to make it as a star but every moment with this character felt like time wasted that could’ve been spent on developing the other characters.
Join me next time as we close out this series by looking at the villain of season two of Disney+’s High School Musical: The Musical: The Series as I take a look at the character of Lily.