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Dear David Bowie, I saw Bandslam last night....

Mar 21, 2010
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Witty look at high school and all the drama and heartache that it entails.

Cons:It is a hard genre to stand out in.

The Bottom Line: Bandslam was a fun movie to watch.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot.

Where can you find love, comedy, drama, betrayal, and hope?  The opera would be one answer, but the other is High School.  I've been watching high school movies since I was in high school and saw Fast Times at Ridgemont High.  Most of my favorite teen movies were done in the 80s with a couple like Orange County and Mean Girls made this decade.

Last night my friends and I rented and watched Bandslam, directed by Todd Graff and starring some of the kids from the High School Musical movies. (Somehow I missed all three of those, I think I was doing my taxes or something). 

Dear David Bowie...

The films star is Will Burton, (Gaelen Connell, in the first role I have seen him in).   He loves all kinds of music, especially David Bowie. I liked this kid already!   The film starts with Will sitting at his computer and we hear him speak as he types, Dear David Bowie..and describes his life situation.  Will's e-mails to the enigmatic rock star form the narrative of the movie.

Will lives with his single mother, Karen played by Lisa Kudrow with acting skills I didn't know she had. I only know Lisa Kudrow from the sitcom friends, and I was very impressed by her role as a single divorced mother struggling to raise a teen and protect him from harm.   Will is an unhappy camper living in the midwest when his mother delivers excellent news. Will asks with hope You quit your job and we are moving? and is shocked when it turns out that his guess is correct. Off they move to New Jersey and Will enrolls in Van Buren High School to start all over. 

He quickly finds out that the most important event here is something called Band Slam, a huge battle of the bands contest resulting in a record contract and $10,000.00 for the winners. The big band on campus is Ben Wheatley and the Glory Dogs. Will makes friends with a girl called Sa5m (the 5 is silent) (Vanessa Hudgens) who is his project partner in a social studies class. They have to learn about each other to present a visual report to the class for their project, so it forces them together to learn what makes each other tick.  A bit of romance is a possibility.

Will is also puzzled to find himself recruited by a pretty high school senior, Charlotte Banks (Alyson Michalka) to lead a band of misfits in this years battle of the bands.  Apparently the band is made up of the fired members of Ben Wheatley and the Glory Dogs, and Charlotte wants to get back at her ex boyfriend Ben (Scott Porter).  Will likes Charlotte but can't quite figure out why she is interested in him or whether or not she likes him or "like" likes him.

What followed was an enjoyable story following Will's efforts to form the band into a coherent sound and dealing with his feelings for the two girls who have taken an interest in him and trying to discern what their feelings are for him.   One of the high points of the film for me was when Sa5m and Will go to CBGBs as part of their project. Will wanted to take Sa5m to one of his favorite places, although he had never been.  Will was too late to see the birth place of the Ramones, The Talking Heads, Blondie and several other influential bands when it was open. Sa5m breaks in through the basement and they just stand in the empty club and reminisce about all the great bands.   When I was in high school, CBGBs was still open, and I went and it was awesome, like sitting in the middle of real rock'n'roll history.  CBGB's was at 315 Bowery St., NY, NY and closed October 2006.

The dialogue was witty in the film, and we all laughed several times. I also loved the soundtrack composed of several David Bowie songs, Cheap Trick cover songs and indie rock songs.  Will Will find love with Sa5m or Charlotte? Will Will's band make it to Band Slam? Will David Bowie ever write back to Will? 

Rent this fun DVD for yourself and find out!

Extras Extras include a couple videos and a bunch of deleted scenes. I could see why the extra scenes were cut, but they were fun to watch.


Band Slam wasn't the all time greatest high school movie made by any means, but it did a good job with the genre and didn't feel like every other H.S. coming of age film ever made. It also reminded me of the late great John Hughes.  I gave the film 3 1/2 stars with a recommend.

For other films about teenagers and the high school experience that I enjoyed check out Top Ten Teen Tales from a Teenager Twice Removed

Recommend this product? Yes

Viewing Format: DVD
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older

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