Movie Review: Bandslam (2009)

If there's a prize for the most deceiving movie poster, I think it should go to Bandslam.

If you look at the image above, it looks like "High School Musical with Guitars." But after watching the movie, there are only things Bandslam has in common with High School Musical: 1) Vanessa Hudgens and 2) the fact that both movies are set in a suburban high school.

I initially though Bandslam would be more like a feel-good rockfest, but surprisingly it was a bit gritty, with a little complex themes about friendship and coming of age. The story centers on Will Burton (played by Gaelan Connell), a not-so-well adjusted teenager who knows about rock music as Wikipedia does. After moving from Ohio to New Jersey, he gets sucked in the worlds of Charlotte (played by Aly Michalka), a mysterious cheerleader-type who fronted a struggling band, and Sa5m (played by Vanessa Hudgens), his introverted classmate who shared a lot of things in common with him. Will must deal with the growing pains while trying not to drift away from his mom (played nicely by Lisa Kudrow).

You will feel that the movie is longer than it really is (It's almost 2 hours) and the musical numbers are not quite as catchy as pop ditties. I wish director Todd Graff could have done away with the dragging moments to keep this movie a little tighter. The themes of complex relationships give the young actors better acting range, especially Vanessa Hudgens, whom I wish had more scenes.

Bandslam is a great teen film but the comparison with High School Musical can't be helped. It's just too bad that Bandslam earned only 4% of what High School Musical earned at the box office-- It has a better story and a smarter execution.

Rating: 3.5/5