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  Spectacular! There's no choir like show choir
Year: 2009
Director: Robert Iscove
Stars: Nolan Gerard Funk, Tammin Sursok, Victoria Justice, Greg Germann, Brittney Irvin, Harris Allan, Joel Ballard, Matthew Bennett, Shannon Chan-Kent, Simon Curtis, Christopher Jacot, Avan Jogia, Lowela Jotie, Andrea Lewis, Kevin McNulty, Jesse Moss
Genre: Musical, Comedy, TV MovieBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Cocky, wannabe teenage rock star Nikko Alexander (the spectacularly named Nolan Gerard Funk) arrives late for a performance with his band Flux then behaves like a total jerk, upstaging his band-mates and throwing a tantrum on stage. His antics prove the last straw as Nikko is swiftly kicked out of Flux and dumped by girlfriend/lead guitarist Amy (Brittney Irvin), all in one night. Among the audience is Courtney Lane (Australian singer/TV actress Tammin Sursok), who offers Nikko a chance to sing lead vocals with her school choir, Spectacular, plucky hopefuls in the fiercely competitive arena of “show choiring.”

A sceptical Nikko accepts an invitation to watch Spectacular perform at the local carnival and is duly aghast to see Courtney and co. strut their way through a cover of Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger”, wearing sparkly purple boxing outfits. Things have been tough for Spectacular ever since Courtney’s ex-boyfriend, lead singer Royce (Simon Curtis) ditched her for Tammi (Victoria Justice), snobby leader of their arch-rivals, Ta-Da! Honestly, that’s what they’re called. To add further insult, Ta-Da take the stage and perform a flawlessly toe-tapping rendition of 10cc’s “The Things We Do For Love”.

Nikko wants no part of this desperately uncool enterprise. Besides his elder brother Stavros (Christopher Jacot) wants him to ditch music and get a proper job. However, Nikko needs to get his hands on some cash to record a demo that will impress a big-time record producer. Remembering Courtney’s offer of half the prize money should he help win the big show choir competition, Nikko persuades her to let him join by performing an impromptu rock dance number. He soon discovers Spectacular are in disarray, since the other kids are too scared of fanatical control freak Courtney to make their voices heard, while music teacher Mr. Romano (Ally McBeal’s Greg Germann) sits looking bored in the corner. Nikko has to whip these misfits into shape, without revealing his true motives, so they’ll win that prize money. But could romance be in the air between the brash bad boy and uptight choir girl? What do you think?

Imitation being both the sincerest form of flattery and a great way to rake in the bucks, Spectacular! (say it with jazz hands waving) is Nickelodeon’s answer to Disney’s High School Musical (2005). Ever since that world-conquering songfest there has been a tidal wave of all-singing, all-dancing teen sensations with shiny bright smiles: Camp Rock (2008), Band Slam (2009), the Fame remake, not to mention the HSM sequels, although the phenomenon arguably dates back to the more obscure indie effort, Camp! (2003). Unless you’re predisposed towards despising “tween” entertainment just for existing, each of these have at least one thing worthwhile about them, and so it is with Spectacular! which while not quite delivering upon its hyperbolic title is amiable, amusing fluff.

Written by James Krieg, a regular screenwriter on cartoon shows Ben: 10 and Batman: The Brave and the Bold, and briskly directed by Robert Iscove, who included a brief musical sequence in his earlier teen flick She’s All That (1999), this is a self-consciously quirkier effort than High School Musical in that it chronicles a more parochial pastime and includes wackier supporting characters. Memo to Hollywood: British movies stopped making fun of Indian accents a while ago. Time you caught up, no matter what Sasha Baron Cohen tells you.

However, for all its quirks, Spectacular! spins a more conventional story than HSM where song and dance tackles non-conformity. Where the Disney movie admirably resists simplifying characters as good or bad, this has no qualms about making Tammi and Royce stick-thin villains, while reckless rocker Nikko learns how to look beyond number one. Initially, Courtney comes across an interestingly cracked heroine prone to amusing fanatical outbursts, but settles into type once the romance kicks in. Everyone here can sing and dance capably, and while grownups will see the story beats coming a mile away, and the film won’t likely scale the same heights as its Disney forerunners, the feel-good factor is enough to entice its target audience.

Click here for the trailer

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


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