Will centers on a high school outcast and a popular girl who form an unlikely bond through their shared love of music. Assembling a like-minded crew of misfits, the friends form a rock group and perform in the battle of the bands competition at their school. Written by
Will Burton, has just moved to a new school. On his first day, he meets Sa5m (the 5 is silent), finding out about an event called Bandslam, a competition for local bands to win a record deal. Charlotte is forming a band, and decides to make Will the band manager...
On paper, Bandslam shouldn't work as well as it does. The story is predictable, it's very clichéd, and in places corny. The plot also has a number of plot holes in it. But despite all this, it is very enjoyable, and very well done.
One of the key reasons for this is the script. Co-written by the director, Todd Graff and Josh A. Gagan, the script takes time to flesh out it's main characters, although in parts the character Sa5m does feel under-written, but this could be due to scenes being edited out. There are twists to each character, which helps explain their actions, especially towards the end. Graff as director handles the material well, right up to the musical finale.
The cast are pretty good too. Vanessa Hudgens is the one getting most attention due to the High School Musical movies, does okay as Sa5m, an outsider. Aly Michalka, as Charlotte is better, but as I said, I think this is due more to her part being written better. However the real stand-out performance is from Gaelan Connell as Will. Lisa Kudrow gives good support as his mother, and in fact there isn't a bad performance in the movie.
The songs themselves aren't that bad, if not entirely memorable, which in a movie about a music contest is important.
At a time when the bigger summer block-buster movies are sacrificing character for visuals, it's good to see a movie that while not setting it's sights very high, gives it's movie proper, rounded characters. It deserves huge credit for that. In fact the best complement I can give this movie, is that it has a John Hughes vibe to it.
And that isn't a bad thing at all. Go enjoy.
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