HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Bruce Lee & I
Doraemon The Movie: Nobita's Dinosaur
Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood
Invasion Planet Earth
Ferdinand
Buddhist Spell, The
Steel and Lace
Reivers, The
Angel Has Fallen
I Lost My Body
At First Light
Free Ride
Crawl
Transit
Blank Check
Mad Monk, The
Wind, The
Holly and the Ivy, The
Atlantique
Now, Voyager
Wolf's Call, The
Nostalghia
Nightingale, The
Eighth Grade
Irishman, The
Betrayed
Lords of Chaos
Operation Petticoat
Dead Don't Die, The
On the Waterfront
Last Faust, The
Moonlighting
Art of Self-Defense, The
Ironweed
Booksmart
Prisoners
Beach Bum, The
Kill Ben Lyk
Into the Mirror
Support the Girls
   
 
Newest Articles
Memories Are Made of This: La Jetee and Sans Soleil on Blu-ray
Step Back in Time: The Amazing Mr. Blunden on Blu-ray
Crazy Cats and Kittens: What's New Pussycat on Blu-ray
No Place Like Home Guard: Dad's Army - The Lost Episodes on Blu-ray
A Real-Life Pixie: A Tribute to Michael J. Pollard in Four Roles
We're All In This Together: The Halfway House on Blu-ray
Please Yourselves: Frankie Howerd and The House in Nightmare Park on Blu-ray
Cleesed Off: Clockwise on Blu-ray
Sorry I Missed You: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort on Blu-ray
Silliest of the Silly: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 1 on Blu-ray
Protest Songs: Hair on Blu-ray
Peak 80s Schwarzenegger: The Running Man and Red Heat
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
Growing Up in Public: 7-63 Up on Blu-ray
Learn Your Craft: Legend of the Witches and Secret Rites on Blu-ray
70s Psycho-Thrillers! And Soon the Darkness and Fright on Blu-ray
Split: Stephen King and George A. Romero's The Dark Half on Blu-ray
Disney Post-Walt: Three Gamechangers
But Doctor, I Am Pagliacci: Tony Hancock's The Rebel and The Punch and Judy Man on Blu-ray
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood: Interview with Director Rene Perez
Shit-Eating Grim: Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom on Blu-ray
Stallone's 80s Action Alpha and Omega: Nighthawks and Lock Up
Python Prehistory: At Last the 1948 Show and Do Not Adjust Your Set on DVD
You Could Grow to Love This Place: Local Hero on Blu-ray
Anglo-American: Joseph Losey Blu-ray Double Bill - The Criminal and The Go-Between
   
 
  Bandslam Rock and Roll High SchoolBuy this film here.
Year: 2009
Director: Todd Graff
Stars: Alyson Michalka, Vanessa Hudgens, Gaelan Connell, Scott Porter, Ryan Donowho, Charlie Saxton, Lisa Kudrow, Tim Jo, Elvy Yost, Lisa Chung, J.W. Wright, Blair Bomar, Casey Williams, Maggie Maye, Jennifer Blair
Genre: Musical, Comedy, Drama, Romance
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: Every week Will Burton (Gaelan Connell) writes a letter to his idol David Bowie, talking about his teenage woes. A troubled past has made it impossible for him to fit in at high school. So Will is overjoyed when his mom Karen (Friends’ Lisa Kudrow) lands a new job in Cincinnati, giving him a fresh start. At his new school Will befriends surly Sa5m (Vanessa Hudgens) (“the 5 is silent”), but also attracts some surprising attention from lovely senior Charlotte Banks (Alyson Michalka), a kindergarten aide and aspiring singer-songwriter caring for her ailing father. Impressed with his musical knowledge, Charlotte takes Will under her wing. She encourages his on-off romance with Sa5m and enlists him as manager of her band, comprised of Omar (Tim Jo), a Chinese guitarist with a fake British accent, and clueless bass player Bug (Charlie Saxton) who has cribbed his style, none too subtly from Flea out of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Their ambition is to headline “Bandslam” - an annual battle of the bands competition, but the road to rock glory takes some tragic turns as Will discovers he’s not the only one with a secret to hide.

With this energetic teen movie, co-writer/director Todd Graff was hoping to do for teenage rock bands what High School Musical (2005) did for young stage performers. Of course most discerning rock fans have an aversion to squeaky clean teen flicks and stayed away. Well, they missed out on something special because Bandslam is another joy from the Walden Media stable. Smart and sassy with fully-rounded characters and a dry wit closer to an indie sensibility than the crass humour found in most high school fare. Best of all, the plot packs a sucker punch of gut-wrenching emotion and borderline philosophical undertones.

The rock-underdogs-make-good setup is almost misleading as to the plot’s true intent, but Graff’s vibrant direction captures the thrill of a young band finding their sound. Will recruits Basher Martin (Ryan Donowho), a drummer with anger management issues (who takes a fancy to his mom!), then adds a brass section, keyboardist (Lisa Chung) and cellist (Elvy Yost) to the mix, creating a bouncy, feel good mix of ska, punk and pop that is more convincing and easier-on-the-ears than most high school movie bands. At first, Will’s burgeoning romance with Sa5m threatens to derail the plot, as they bond with a visit to CBGB’s, the legendary club that kick-started careers for the Ramones, Blondie and Patti Smith, and lament its passing (never mind that CB's audience of surly rock journos and poseurs irked bands by refusing to applaud or dance!). However, his fumbled attempts to steal a kiss are funny (Sa5m’s deadpan response: “Have you seen Evil Dead 2? It’s my favourite movie ever”) and their romance culminates in an emotionally devastating classroom confrontation where Sa5m uses a mirror to describe Will as "a reflective surface" before he responds with a sweetly ingenious home video apology. Naturally, Graff ensures Sa5m also has musical talent, thus weaving their subplot into the main story thread.

Vanessa Hudgens has an innate girl-next-door sweetness that leaves her sadly miscast as a surly rock chick (“Emotion is overrated”), but Aly Michalka is a real find. A genuine singer-songwriter and musician (as part of platinum selling duo Aly & A.J. along with her sister Amanda), Michalka brings her winning charisma to one of the more complex and compelling characters to be found in a teen movie. Once a cheerleader who ran with the popular crowd, Charlotte is now seemingly on a mission to change her life. Her friendship with Will is far more crucial to the movie than his romance a facet underlined in a beautifully played exchange between Michalka and Lisa Kudrow's concerned mom. Gaelan Connell is also strong, especially once the story deepens beyond the familiar geek-meets-dream-girl scenario into far more ambitious territory.

The big question, which lesser teen movies leave unanswered, is why would a gorgeous, pouting senior take such a maternal interest in a high school geek? Charlotte even teaches Will how to kiss! The answer, when it comes, is heartbreaking as is the explanation behind Will's nickname: “Dewey.” Thereafter events grow increasingly tragic. Mistakes are made, feelings are hurt, and characters rail against fate and an unfair universe. The subtext grows downright existential as Sa5m leads discussions pondering whether the group had any control over their lives or have been manipulated by a greater force. Karma is a major theme in the movie. This idea of whether by doing good for others we can enact a positive change in our lives and the universe at large, or whether we are doomed to cyclically repeat our past mistakes. The “bandslam” itself becomes a crucible, a moment of heart-in-your-mouth tension where the crowd cruelly taunt Will onstage and somebody else's good intentions cost the band their only song. Hudgens ups her game by leading the big, feel-good sing-a-long. Although the finale weaves in a cameo from a certain pop chameleon, there is something quite touching and clever in its use of teen internet culture as a means of underlining its philosophical point about young people shaping their own destiny. Make no mistake, Bandslam is a great teen movie.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 2077 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
  Rachel Franke
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M
   

 

Last Updated: