There hasn’t been a great high school-themed movie in a long time.  Sure, some will think that a movie like High School Musical fits that description, but it’s not a movie for the ages.  Bandslam doesn’t fill that quota either, but it’s still a harmless, easy to watch movie about music and teenagers.

Bandslam is the story of Will Burton (Gaelan Connell), a Cincinnati, Ohio teenager who is lacking a life, friends and happiness before moving to New Jersey in the hopes of starting over.  After moving with his mother, played by Lisa Kudrow, Will is able to start fresh in a new place.  He is befriended by an older, popular girl named Charlotte (Aly Michalka) from his new school who takes him under her wing.  Charlotte and Will bond over music and with Will’s musical expertise, he helps Charlotte and her band find the missing pieces that will help lead them to success in their high school’s Bandslam competition. 

Will also comes across Sa5m (Vanessa Hudgens), a loner, who he happens to meet on his first day of school.  After having to do a class project together, Will and Sa5m realize that there is more to their relationship than just friendship.

As Will tries to fit in, he must come to terms with the demons he left behind in Cincinnati.  Through music, he is able to find himself and feel alive for the first time.

I was expecting to not like this movie, but I was pleasantly surprised.  Connell is a refreshing young actor who is extremely likeable.  Michalka has a real presence onscreen, but I don’t know how much longevity she has in the future.  She is a recording artist with her sister, AJ, when not acting.  She has a decent voice that fit in well with this story.  This film was full of unknown or little known actors, which is partially why I found it kind of endearing. 

I could have done without the typical side story (i.e. jerk boyfriend tries to get girl back) and the silly use of numbers in the names, but the premise of a group of high school kids trying to win a battle of the bands is respectable.  I’m torn on what I thought of Hudgens in this film.  Her voice drove me nuts and it was even addressed onscreen as to why she was talking with a deeper tone.  I liked that she wasn’t like the cutesy character she played in the High School Musical movies, but I’d like to see if she’s capable of showing more range.

The music in the film works because it’s modern and relevant, but the last song played was kind of brutal.  I hate watching people play instruments in a movie because when they don’t know how to play, it’s painfully obvious.  The storyline of David Bowie references and cameos gave some credibility to this film as well.

This movie tanked at the box office when it premiered last summer, but I think it could have a decent following when it hits cable.  TBS and TNT live for movies like this that can appeal to a teen crowd.  Bandslam is good, useless entertainment. 

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