At first glance Bandslam looks like the typical shallow teen dramedy, with aspirations of High School Musicallity. I guess with that in mind I was kind of ready to dismiss it from the get go. What a mistake that would have been. Bandslam focuses on a lonely outcast Will Burton, whose love of music and amazingly deep general knowledge on the history of rock n’ roll creates this very endearing character. In fact it actually showed some real respect to good music through the music tastes of the main character Will Burton, music like classic punk such as the Ramones, David Bowie, right through to the ragamuffin reggae of Jimmy Cliff and so many more.
As the film unfolds we see a school that is very focused on their own entry into the local battle of the bands competition, “Bandslam”. Normally the school only enters one band who generally always wins. However this year Will wants to change things up, after all he is new to the school so surely the historical rules need not apply. After recruiting a motley crew of misfits and rock n’ roll hopefuls, the die is cast and a band is formed.
Even though Will does not play an instrument, his understanding of music and arrangement gives these kids the hint of what could be and the musical joy bellows forth.
Bandslam was a damn sight better than I thought it would be. So many of these styles of movies focus purely on cheesy pop music and heavily choreographed dance routines. None of which is here. There are some nice moments of emotionally driven teenage drama and you know, what people’s feelings get hurt and lives are by no means perfect. It’s a movie about figuring out who you are and what the soundtrack to your life will be.
I think this movie would surprise you immensely, It certainly did me…
Reviewed by: Jon E Clist
Releases: 17th December 2009
Rating: M – Violence
Running time: 111 minutes
Starring: Vanessa Hudgens, Lisa Kudrow, Alyson Michalka and Gaelan Connell
Director: Todd Graff