A new kid in town assembles a fledgling rock band -- together, they achieve their dreams and compete against the best in the biggest event of the year, a battle of the bands.


Todd Graff


Josh A. Cagan (screenplay), Todd Graff (screenplay) | 1 more credit »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Aly Michalka ... Charlotte
Vanessa Hudgens ... Sa5m
Gaelan Connell ... Will
Scott Porter ... Ben Wheatly
Ryan Donowho ... Basher
Charlie Saxton ... Bug
Lisa Kudrow ... Karen
Tim Jo ... Omar
Elvy ... Irene (Cello) (as Elvy Yost)
Lisa Chung Lisa Chung ... Kim Lee (Keyboards)
J.W. Wright J.W. Wright ... Dylan Dyer (Glory Dogs Guitar) (as J.W. Wright II)
Blair Bomar ... Megan
Casey Williams ... Ms. Wittenberg
Maggie Maye ... Kyra 17-1
Jennifer Blair ... Kyra's Friend


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 anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Get Ready To Rock! See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for some thematic elements and mild language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Charlie Saxton shot this movie's high school graduation scene before he had actually graduated from his high school. See more »


In the opening shots when he's making his "It's Monday Morning" entry to David Bowie, there's a closeup of his hands on the keyboard and his watch reads, 1:30. See more »


Will: [in voice-over]
[while watching a marching band practice]
Will: Dear David Bowie, first thing we need is a brass section. Though, granted. Van Buren has a limited pool to choose from.
Will: [voice-over] The pianists around here are all classical.
[Kim plays classical music. Will places the sheet music to "Blister in the Sun" in front of Kim, who switches to its opening riff]
Will: [voice-over] If Arcade Fire can have a cello, we can have a cello.
Will: Need a hand?
Irene (Cello): Need a Stanford-Binet test?
Will: What? Sorry. It looked heavy.
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References Evil Dead II (1987) See more »


Sunny Side Up
Written by J.W. Wright (as J.W. Wright II), Chris Copeland and Kai Roach
Performed by Scott Porter and Glory Dogs
See more »

User Reviews

School of not
20 August 2009 | by Chris KnippSee all my reviews

This high school musical movie actually contains one of HSM's stars, Vanessa Hudgens, plus Lisa Kudrow as the single mother of the protag, Will Burton (Gaelen Connell), who is delighted when his mom finds a way to take them to live in a new place, Lodi, New Jersey. He was more then ready for a change. In one of the chatty emails to David Bowie that provide the narration, he calls his old high school "Guantanamo with lunch breaks." What happens at the new school? Will gets lucky. Real lucky. He gets paired off with Vanessa Hudgens in a class, and they become a couple. A former Alpha Female called Charlotte (junior prom queen, head cheerleader), played by Alyson Michalka, finds out Will has an encyclopedic musical knowledge and recruits him to meld her garage band into one that can beat the high school's reigning Glory Dogs and win the tri-state (NY, NY, CN) "bandslam." One obvious motive is that she wants to beat the Glory Dogs to trounce its lead singer, Ben Wheatly (Scott Porter), because he is her snotty former boyfriend. Aside from Ben, a generic model of testosterone overconfidence, Graff (mostly) steers clear of high school stereotypes.

This sets up a trajectory for the film that's like an older kids' version of Richard Linklater's 'School of Rock,' but Gaelen Connell is no Jack Black and the pathway to the big event isn't as cute -- or as climactic. That was one of Black's triumphs, but on the other hand Connell himself is way cuter than Jack Black, whose closest lookalike is the base guitarist, a Flea imitator who calls himself Bug (Charlie Saxton). Resembling young Tom Hanks or maybe John Cusack, with a weak chin, a sweet little smile, a mini Afro and a wrinkled brow, you can almost believe Connell's Will might actually be in the constant company of the school's hottest chicks. Not quite. He's not as articulate and soulful as Cusack, and not as edgey and dark as Christian Slater was in 'Heathers' or 'Pump Up the Volume.' But then Hudgens isn't the shiny, prefab girlfriend of Zac Efron this time. Au contraire. She gets to be the dark one. She calls herself Sa5m ("the 5 is silent"), wears dark clothes, and she reads all the time, even when Will's trying to kiss her.

When you think of Eighties youth classics like those two Slater was in, Bandslam looks generic. We'll just never relive that great Eighties youth movie moment or see the likes of the late, great John Hughes again. But when you compare Bandslam to 'High School Musical,' you realize this is not the kind of movie that you pan. It deserves encouragement. The screenplay by Graff and Josh A. Cagan is packed with inessential cuteness and never takes its dark moments seriously enough -- even though it pushes them too hard. The music Will leads the band into is bland -- and loud. There's none of the joy in rock frenzy that Jack Black comically evokes. Maybe Wil's expertise -- his celebratory (and still pretty touching) visit to the ruins of CGMG, where punk began -- may seem more a reflection of the 50ish director than a teenager. But none of that matters enough to maul this movie, unless you're desperate to show how musically hip you are. The cast is just too appealing and the action is just too much fun to write them off.

When Will reshapes the band by adding brass and an Asian girl classical keyboardist (Lisa Chung) and an elphin-spouting nerdy girl cellist (Elvy Yost) and a boy drummer called Basher (Ryan Donowho) whose majors are machine shop and anger management, if feels like he's bringing something to life (however silly the music), and Jack Black was just a puppet master. It's also good that Kudrow really seems like a single mom trying not to get too much in the way of her son's new life but still protective and sometimes forgetting herself and making him a friend, or as he says "doing that thing of talking to me like I'm Oprah." Sometimes Todd Graff's perky cuteness seems pretty real. Connell has been compared to a Michael Cera "without the sweetness." "Thank you Shia LaBeouf and Michael Cera" is something Connell has actually said, "for paving the way for someone like me to be the leading guy in a movie." But Connell is Connell. LaBeouf would be a lead weight here, and Cera would swamp the movie with his indie quirkiness. The best thing about Connell is he's not a scene stealer: he's a catalyst. He makes this movie built around him an ensemble picture, and everybody looks pretty good.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

14 August 2009 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Will See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA See more »


Box Office


$20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$2,231,273, 16 August 2009

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby | SDDS | Dolby Digital | DTS


Color (FotoKem)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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