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Bandslam


I must admit I walked into Bandslam with my keyboard sharpened, cynicism intact and sarcastic rhetoric primed. For the most part I was correct in my assumptions. Effortless, weightless and harmless, this is indeed a retread of the teen musical, swimming with angst and ‘performances’ of an average we’ve come to expect (expectations well-founded when you check the demographics of who attends cinema these days). Yet there’s something likable about Bandslam. Perhaps it’s the presence of Lisa Kudrow, the best Friend we’ll ever have…
 
Music-obsessed super-dork Will Burton (Gaelan Connell) and his mother Karen (Kudrow, who’s surely stage-trained such is the economy of her line readings) have just moved to New Jersey. At his new school, Will’s delighted to find rock ‘n’ roll is a dominant force and with the upcoming titular competition, the atmosphere is ripe with opportunity. After befriending a similar misfit Sa5m (the 5 is silent), Will finds himself targeted by ringlet-adorned ‘It’ girl Charlotte (Alyson Michalka) to help pull her band into shape for the festivities, a job Will is tailor-made for.
 
So far, so cliché but there’s more involving Will’s father, the origins of Will’s nicknames, the curious triangle he finds himself in and some John Hughes angst stirred right in. Sa5m, played with charm by the angelic High School Musical regular Vanessa Hudgens, delivers best amongst the young‘uns here particularly in the grand finale when she delivers a rollicking take on David Gates classic, Everything I Own. You’ll barely remember any of these young faces, they’re becoming more interchangeable as time (and cinema) marches on, but that showdown, an instructor’s manual on how to turn high-school prejudice to your own advantage, is enough to make you cheer.
Michael Dalton
www.bandslam-movie.com

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