Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot.
Recommend this product?
There are great movies out there that become classics. There are movies out there that stink to high Heaven. There are art films that most people just don't get. And then there are movies that are nothing more than a load of fun. Such is the case with BANDSLAM.
BANDSLAM tells the tale of Will Burton (Gaelan Connell), a withdrawn teen in Cincinnati who can't stand his high school. Not part of any crowd he's pleased as can be when his mom (Lisa Kudrow) decides to quit her job and move the two of them to New Jersey where her sister has found her new work.
Will's love of music should make him a shoe in with the new kids but alas, such is not the case. Instead he discovers that the same cliques roam the halls of the new school just like the old. With one exception. Rather than high school sports being the main event, this school is pumped up for something called Bandslam.
At lunch one day a student takes the stage and introduces the local heroes, a band called Ben Wheatley and the Glory Dogs. As they begin to play, Will looks towards the stage and notices a girl sitting at his table named Sa5m (the 5 is silent) played by Vanessa Hudgens. When he asks her how big this Bandslam is here she tells him "as big as Texas football".
In class, Will and Sa5m are partnered up in an exercise the teacher has put together where two students get to know each other and then tell the rest of the class who that other person is. They can use everything from visual aids like slides or film to poetry. These two different individuals don't start well but eventually grow on one another.
At the same time Will catches the eye of Charlotte (Alyson Michalka). She snags Will into helping her sit the kids in a pre-schoolers class and then hooks his Ipod into the sound system. When Will tells her that his dad is a side musician who played with The Who, she invites him to hear her band at practice.
Will accepts, attracted to Charlotte who he obviously has no chance with. After hearing the band he tells them his opinions of how they sound and act. Hoping to improve themselves with Will's help in an attempt to take out the Glory Dogs (of which these were the original members till Ben kicked them all out), they follow his suggestions and add to the group. With a little work and perseverance, they begin to look like they have a chance to be the second band representing their high school at Bandslam.
Along the way Will and Charlotte become close friends. But Sa5m has warned Will from the start, girls like her are just trouble. While their friendship grows, Will and Sa5m become close as well, more along the couple type line.
A few mistakes in how to deal with friends, girlfriends, moms and more round out the story. Toss in Charlotte's being Ben's ex girlfriend that he wants to get back with and you have the makings for teen angst in a nutshell. Will Charlotte stay with the band? What is Charlotte's big secret? Will Will unite this rag tag group into a band? Will the band discover Will's misrepresentation of himself? And what about Will and Sa5m? All is answered before the final moments of the film.
What makes this movie fun is the joy of music that is observed by all. While these kids talk a good talk about loving independent music like the early Ramones, etc., their sound doesn't come close to resembling it. But it doesn't matter. They have a youthful enthusiasm and it shows. And actually a ska rendition of the classic Bread song "Everything I Own" turns out to be pretty good.
Most people will toss this movie into the category of the HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL films. But it seemed to me to be less Disney and more John Hughes, kind of a combination of the two. The film does call for a healthy dose of suspension of belief, but it doesn't matter. Why? Because it's fun!
I've always thought that movies should be entertaining before anything else. This film offers that. Will it be one that folks will reference when talking about cinema? No way. Will it be one that people will remember forever? Nope. Will it offer a nice easy evening of entertainment? Definitely.
A decent (though unbelievable) story, a good looking cast, pretty good acting and some fairly good music make this a movie you can enjoy and the kids can watch as well. Give yourself a break, bypass the blood and guts or high art for one night and have some fun with BANDSLAM.
Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Better than Watching TV
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children up Ages 8