Honestly, there is nothing more frustrating than a movie that squanders all potential to make itself decent. With Vanessa Hudgens taking top billing, hopes were not all that high for “Bandslam”, but I went in with my fingers crossed that it might prove itself to be a good teen movie and appeal to the cheesier side of my heart. My dreams were crushed.

Directed by: Todd Graff
Written by: Josh Cagan and Todd Graff
Starring: Gaelan Connell, Vanessa Hudgens, Aly Michalka and Lisa Kudrow
Running time: 111 mins
Rating: PG
Seen at: Boston Common Loews

SPOILER ALERT!: “Bandslam” is the story of loner and David Bowie obsessed Will Burton, played by new face Gaelan Connell, who has grown up being tortured by the nickname “Dewey” since he was twelve years old. Finally, his mother decides to liberate him from high school hell by moving him to Jersey. Once placed in his new school, Will is introduced to Bandslam “" the “Texas high school football big” event of the year where students all across the region compete for a record deal. He is recruited by the most popular girl in school, Charlotte Banks (Aly Michalka), to manage her new band in hopes of beating her ex boyfriend and favorite to win “" Glory Dogs in the competition.

Despite their differences Will and Charlotte develop an unlikely friendship “" one that shows Charlotte there’s more to life than cheerleading and boys and allows Will to find something he’s truly gifted at. Together they create a band with an original, catchy and I’ll even stretch for touching number “" Phil’s Song. Of course, all of it falls to pieces when Charlotte’s father dies and it comes to light that her trip to the dark side of unpopularity was just a social experiment to please her sick dad. Suddenly the underdogs must scramble for a new lead singer to get them the Bandslam trophy. If you have seen any trailer for the movie you already know who they turn to, ready and waiting with a “voice to die for” to save the day.

Hudgens, who plays Sa5m (the five is silent), is set up to be the loner of Will’s new high school and the girl who steals his heart. They tried their best to make her look homely, but sticking books like “Pride and Prejudice” and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” in front of her face did little to make the natural prom queen-esque look of Hudgens more of a bad-ass. It came off more condescending and insulting to any kid who actually does have trouble fitting in. There was also a huge hole in the plot as to why Hudgens was so incapable of making friends. The only revealed source of her angst was losing a talent show in early middle school.

The largest complaint I have about Hudgens’s performance was that her presence in the movie was unnecessary and so obviously an attempt to suck in a High School Musical crowd for higher box office results. The movie is complete with plot, conflict and possible resolution without Hudgens ever being present. Her fledgling relationship with Will distracts from his friendship with Charlotte “" which actually results in character growth and development.

By all predeceasing cheesy teen movie standards, Charlotte’s change of heart after she realizes Will’s “Dewey” nickname actually is “DUI” “" spawned after his father killed a 12-year-old boy in a drunk driving accident should have been the resolution. As the original lead singer, she should have re-claimed her spot as lead singer and helped the band save the day.

Instead, despite Charlotte’s redemption, Sa5m stays as new lead singer and the band ends up performing “Everything I Own” “" which the movie’s demographic will attribute to *Nsync’s first album rather than Bread who recorded the original version of the song in 1972. END SPOILER.

As I said, there was potential for a touching, though cheesy, story if producers had allowed the story to unfold between Will and Charlotte rather than trying to squeeze Hudgens into the movie. Connell does a beautifully awkward job of portraying the bumbling Will, just trying to find his place in high school while struggling with a dark past. Michalka is charming and even funny as Charlotte. Lisa Kudrow’s performance as Will’s overprotective mother is also worth a mention, adding some legitimacy and backbone to the story.

“Bandslam” is also impressive with their music references. If any of the tweens checking this movie come out with a curiosity for Bowie and The Velvet Underground or an appreciation for the history of CBGB then “Bandslam” was a job well done. The truth is that the movie’s strive to add a house hold name to the billing may have squandered the life out of a good story. That kind of sacrifice seems extra sad this week considering the death of high school movie king John Hughes. Unless being forced to attend by your little sibling or cousin, Bandslam is worth skipping.

About The Author

Megan Vick is a Blast editor-at-large

3 Responses

  1. stephen

    The BLAST review sucks. BandSLAM is the sleeper of the summer – the storyline, dialogue with several quotables and musical numbers rarely fall below a solid A-rating. And there are moments of absolute bliss – both comic and musical. BLAST needs to give Megan Vick a Stanford Binet test, and Vick needs to reread Aristotle to understand what a comedy in Western civilization has been about for 2500 years. This musical romantic comedy is filled with wonderful moments. The first person voiceover as emails to an imaginary pen-pal in David Bowie are an exceptionl gimic that drives the story forward. The three main singers and the drummer alone are worth the price of a ticket, where the boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl theme comes for free with a lot of laughs. A must see movie!

  2. pau;

    Disappointing in that a movie that talks the talk invoking David Bowie, the clash and the sex pistols and features a tout of CBGB’s then winds up with a lame rendition of one of the 70’s worst light and airy faves. *GAG*

  3. izzy Bong

    Amazing movie! Up beat and awesome but tutching and funny!You guys don’t knnow what ur talking about!


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