Bandslam (2009)

Friday, May 18, 2012


Initially this was not something I had hopes of being “great.” Imagine my surprise when I walked away from this with the conclusion of this being one of the BEST (albeit quirky) teen flicks to come along in a long time. (Seriously! This is true.)

Will Burton (Gaelan Connell) not what anyone would call popular. Each of the schools he has been enrolled in know the secret that earned him the nickname “dewy,” but it’s his “geek” status that stops fellow students from befriending him. Feeling like his only companion is his free-spirited mother Karen (Lisa Kudrow) - so not cool - he can only wish for a move, which is exactly what he gets.

Upon arrival in New Jersey, Will finds his latest school is crazy about a competition called “Bandslam,” it’s “like, Texas football” size big he learns from fellow classmate Sa5m (and anyone who wonders: The five is silent!). Finding what he has walked into all a little… weird, Will tentatively begins a friendship with popular-girl-gone-nice, Charlotte Banks (Aly Michalka), who in turn wants him to mange her fledging band. But this jeopardizes his potential with Sa5m (Vanessa Hudgens), and before long, he’s right back where he started.

Because of its female leads, this one caught my eye, but it never hit the top of the list as making me excited enough to rush out and obtain a copy. Even still, I was immensely glad that I had a copy the first week of its release. Perhaps initially, viewers’ first thought is “okay, this is quirky.” But underneath there is an unknown quality to it that radiates easily onto the screen. Most teen flicks follow patterns - something is always the same about them, and true there are certain themes of Bandslam that mirror those, but most of all, it stands on its own two feet. There are thought-provoking conversations that one rarely finds in today’s entertainment and truisms that even in our own personal circles are not often discussed or at least, not as often as they would deserve to be. The main story has been recycled to some extent but is individual in that all the actors were required to provide their own vocals and actually have the skill to play their instruments, which for most of the actors took diligent training in order to accomplish that feat.

Being a film of a musical nature, one cannot help but love the soundtrack. It had a distinctive sound to it that was a sort of eclectic rhythm and a lot of instruments to accompany it. Sure, there are rock ballads (not my favored genre), but I am willing to say everything worked together really nicely, each of the songs playing off the others well, which in turn complemented the vocals nicely.

Bandslam's humor is really clever, without ever becoming “inappropriate” (except perhaps for one subject). Between Will’s deadpan seriousness and Charlotte’s straightforward not-afraid-to-be-me attitude, there is always some witty word match. The characters and relationships are most interesting. I enjoyed how each of them developed and how the actors played off of that. The cast is strong, most especially Connell, who does a fabulous job playing a likable “geeky” sort of character. However surprising, it is really the ladies who steal the show (more so Aly). Vanessa is absent a great deal more of the movie than one would have expect, but she makes Sa5m so likable regardless of her emotionless fa├žade to say nothing of the fact that her nose is always stuck in a book. Charlotte is the most interesting of them all though. Aly exudes just enough “mystery” to make us question her motives, all without making her the standard popular detestable “mean” girl.

Lessons (which encompass true friendship and loss) are learned well and unveil themselves to be profound. Most especially does this all climax after the death of a central character’s father and teasing that Will puts up with only to turn it around, channeling it into something positive. Such depth is usually absent from teen flicks. From the snappy opening and closing credits, Bandslam is really a delightful little movie that is not so different from the normal to make it one-in-a-million, but at the same time there is something special about it. 

(Rated PG there are a few sensual instances: “First kisses” is one topic. Charlotte questions if Will has kissed Sa5m, she “educates” him by showing him what to do [nothing explicit]. Charlotte sneaks into Will’s bedroom, with no intention of anything other than to talk [Karen finds them and thinks differently]. A student has a crush on Will’s mother, whom Will claimed was his sister [the extent of which is one kiss]. Some cheating is suggested and lying is presented in a couple of different instances.)


  1. This sounds like a really cute movie. His mom is his best friend - that's really sweet. :)

    I love the new colors on your blog! Very summery. :)

  2. no way!! i remember seeing preview for this and thought it would be no good! can't believe you liked it! looks like i'll have to give it a shot :)
    xo TJ

  3. Lauren - it really is. I was actually surprised at how well I enjoyed it. The vocals are nice and the acting was more impressive than viewers would give it credit for.

    Aw! Thanks - I had fun with this one... do you think it is too "orange"? I wondered if it was a bit too overwhelming, so I did throw in a little purple on one of the accents but it is hard to spot. =D

    Really glad you stopped by, Lauren - thanks.

    TJ - I know, right!? This movie is "different" but way entertaining. If you can get past its quirkiness, it is a little gem.

  4. No, I dont think it's too much orange. The blue balances it out nicely. It's very fresh and summery. :)

  5. Thanks, Lauren! I was putting this one up, and with the links and everything, I was suddenly like, "hm... I wonder if the orange is too overwhelming!?" =D

  6. Mm'kay, just watched this an hour ago and I really liked it :) I love how at the end, instead of running off the stage and cowering, he changed "what could have been" completely around. :) And Sa5m was my favorite character, even though I'm not too much of a fan of Vanessa herself. The scene where she is getting ready for their "date" and I realize what is about to was what endeared me to her for some reason :)

  7. Aw! Good - I am so glad you enjoyed this one, Trinka. I haven't watched it in ages but I really want to again. I remember loving it despite its quirkiness.

    Will channeling a bad situation into something good was excellent - I do recall loving that. Vanessa is one of my fave young actresses but I haven't seen in in much beyond HSM and Beastly (which I loved) but I know how it is not to like someone. It definitely clouds your judgement - my mother is really like that. If she doesn't like an actor, you can bet she won't like the movie.

    Must watch this one again - so glad you stopped in to share your thoughts. Keep them coming. =)


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