Saturday, August 15, 2009


Bandslam [PG]
Grade: D
Cast: Aly Michalka, Vanessa Hudgens, Gaelan Connell Lisa Kudrow
Director: Todd Graff

This year 2009 offers us one riveting story of an awkward virgin struggling for social acceptance while dealing with his first taste of love as he chooses between two young ladies of opposite fortune. The name of that film is Adventureland. (Hat tip: A. O. Scott)

As for Bandslam, well, it’s not Fast Times at Ridgmont High or anything. Heck, it’s not Juno. It involves the effort of a dorky curly-haired newcomer to a New Jersey high school (Gaelan Connell) and his effort to “manage” a high school rock band. He befriends an ex-cheerleader(Alyson Michalka) who has exiled herself from the in-crowd to hang out with the music dorks, all the while fronting a band with her oh so sexy blond curls. He also befriends the dark, mysterious girl (eeeeww!)(High School Musical’s Vanessa Hudgens), whose name is Sa5m. The 5 is silent. No, I would never make such a stupid thing up.

These kids don’t really resemble any high schoolers I knew in high school. It’s more what we thought high schoolers would be like in sixth grade. Like when you figured that there had to be a schoolwide band competition with the winner getting a recording contract. That’s senior year, right?

So, how do you know you’re in a music crowd that’s lamer than it thinks? They do the overhead clap. That of course breaks out in the middle of Bandslam’s climax. And it’s emblematic of a film that doesn’t realize it needs to do more than drop band names to be cool. There’s a sense of calculation in this film that is crushing.

But it does get points for two things. It manages to slip Glen Campbell’s Wichita Lineman in there, and two character very momentarily break out into The Madison. And while I would never be a fan, Hudgens does seem to be a natural entertainer. So it’s not a complete disaster.

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