Director: Todd Graff
Cast: Alyson Michalka, Gaelan Connell, Vanessa
Hudgens, Scott Porter, Tim Jo, Ryan Donowho, Elvy Yost, Lisa
Chung, Charlie Saxton, Lisa Kudrow
RunTime: 1 hr 51 mins
Released By: Shaw
Official Website: http://www.bandslam-movie.com/
Opening Day: 27 August 2009
Channel superstars Vanessa Anne Hudgens ("High School
Musical 1 & 2," "High School Musical 3")
and Alyson Michalka ("Phil of the Future," pop duo
Aly and AJ) join Gaelan Connell ("Chocolat"), Scott
Porter ("Speed Racer") and Lisa Kudrow ("Friends")
in the music-driven comedy "Bandslam." When gifted
singer-songwriter Charlotte Banks (Michalka) asks new kid
in town Will Burton (Connell) to manage her fledgling rock
band, she appears to have just one goal in mind: go head-to-head
against her egotistical musician ex-boyfriend, Ben (Porter),
at the biggest event of the year, a battle of the bands.
all odds, their band develops a sound all its own with a real
shot at success in the contest. Meanwhile, romance brews between
Will and Sam (Hudgens), who plays a mean guitar and has a
voice to die for. When disaster strikes, it's time for the
band to make a choice: Do they admit defeat, or face the music
and stand up for what they believe in?
Perhaps the best way to tell you about what Bandslam really
is is to tell you what it’s not. It’s not a High
School Musical-wannabe, despite the casting of HSM-alumni
Vanessa Hudgens and its very obviously HSM-inspired trailer.
It’s also not a School of Rock-clone, in spite of some
similarities in plot and genre of music. No, Bandslam is really
a movie good, even great, enough to be in a class of its own.
one must admit, it’s probably quite hard to tell just
by looking at Bandslam’s premise. Its setup of a lonely
new kid moving into a new town and becoming the manager of
a kick-ass band fronted by some of the not-so-popular guys
and gals in his school may sound a little tired and clichéd;
but rest assured that this movie is not. Instead, director
Todd Graff (of “Camp” fame), who also co-wrote
the movie, executes the movie with great spunk and verve.
some of the classic teenage movies of our generation (a la
“Juno”), Bandslam possesses a bona fide youthful
sensibility about itself. Through each of its characters-
new kid-in-town Will Burton (Gaelan Connell), once-lead cheerleader
Charlotte Banks (Alyson Michalka), and moody-outcast type
Sa5m (Vanessa Hudgens), Graff explores the awkwardness and
anxieties of adolescence. Will is a kid whose overprotective
mom (Lisa Kudrow) tries too hard to compensate for the absence
of his father; Sa5m is the cooler-than-thou girl who can’t
quite fit in at school; and Charlotte is the popular pretty
high school-type girl that the audience (and Will) find out
later is not as simple as she appears.
this is a period of searching for one’s identity, of
questioning one’s circumstances and of discovering one’s
potential. All this Graff communicates with a great deal of
heart and sincerity so that not Will, Charlotte nor Sa5m look
or feel like one of those character stock-types that Hollywood
likes to churn out.
certainly helps that Graff and Josh A. Cagan’s script
displays a surprisingly generous dose of wit and charm. One
of the movie’s best lines is Will’s reply to his
bespectacled nerdy-looking cello playing band member when
she suddenly starts speaking in some unintelligible language.
“No one speaks in conversational Elfish”, Will
tells her matter-of-factly. Just as hilarious and yet surprisingly
tender is Bandslam’s obligatory awkward-kiss moment
between Will and Sa5m- one of the moments among many bound
to bring a smile to your face.
that delightful moment would have been much less so were it
not for the lively performances of its cast, most notably
Gaelan Connell. Connell is perfectly endearing as the shy,
not so sure of himself Will, his most-common expression a
look of discomfort and bewilderment. And Disney Channel superstars
Hudgens and Michalka are also great fun to watch, the trio
of them and Connell sharing a nice chemistry with one another.
what would a comedy about music be without an appealing soundtrack
to boot? Bandslam’s energy is matched, and in fact enlivened,
by a wonderfully eclectic soundtrack from the likes of David
Bowie to Velvet Underground to a rework of Bread’s “Everything
I Own” (performed by Vanessa Hudgens). It’s apparent
that a great deal of effort has gone into creating the music
and sounds of the movie, and it truly pays off in Bandslam’s
unique, infectious and very affecting rhythms.
all its merits, it’s surely disappointing that Bandslam
has not received the reception it ought to in the U.S., thanks
to a wholly inaccurate marketing effort that tried to position
it as the next High School Musical. This reviewer will categorically
attest that this is no HSM, nor is it a School of Rock- the
other movie it is bound to draw comparisons with. Quirky,
cool, funky and full of spirit and heart, Bandslam is a feel-good
smash that possesses its own unique voice.
(Don’t let its HSM-like marketing deceive you-
this is one energetic, amusing and utterly charming comedy
set to its own unique rhythm)
Review by Gabriel Chong