Bandslam


Directed by: Todd Graff
Written by:Josh A. Cagan, Todd Graff
Starring: Alyson Michalka, Vanessa Hudgens, Gaelan Connell, Scott Porter, Ryan Donowho, Lisa Kudrow
Released: August 13, 2009
Grade: B

When I was at school, I remember everyone getting hyped up about the Rock Eisteddfod.  It was one of those events where young musicians and performers could show their stuff.  It was extremely competitive too.

The reason I’m reminiscing is to help explain what this film is about.  It’s about a group of not-so-popular school kids who have put a band together with the hopes of defeating all the other schools at the annual Bandslam competition.  They want to prove to their many critics that they have what it takes.

Managing the band is Will Burton (Connell).  With a distinctive taste in music, shying away from mainstream stuff, Will has always seen himself as an outsider.  He’s just started at the school and is hoping to make some new friends.  Will got the gig as manager having caught the eye of the lead singer, Charlotte (Michalka).

There’s another girl to throw into the mix.  Sam (Hudgens), like Will, tends to stay away from conformity and largely keeps to herself.  The two have plenty in common and after being paired up for a school assignment (which seems ridiculous easy if you ask me) they too become friends.

In the background in a nice supporting role is Lisa Kudrow (Friends) as Will’s mother.  She’s a nice character and provides Will with some valuable advice for his troubles.  Which girl will he end up with?  How will they go at Bandslam?  You’ll have to see the film to find out more.

This is a teen orientated film and I’m happy to report that it doesn’t always follow traditional formulas.  What I’m trying to say is that there aren’t huge character extremes.  These are just ordinary kids (well, kind of) all struggling to fit in.  Charlotte is an ex-cheerleader but be careful not to judge her too early.  I liked the name of the band too – “I Can’t Go On, I’ll Go On.”

Before I get everyone too excited, I still wasn’t blown away by this film.  It has some nice touches but I didn’t find Will to be a very exciting central character.  All the letters he wrote to David Bowie seemed more creepy than enlightening.

I’m taking the middle ground on Bandslam and giving it a mild recommendation but am certain that it will appeal more to the younger audience.  The casting of Vanessa Hudgens from the High School Musical trilogy and Alyson Michalka from Disney’s Phil Of The Future television series should tell you that.