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Friday, August 14, 2009

Bandslam

Bandslam

http://bandslam-movie.com/

Release Date: August 14th, 2009

Rated PG for some thematic elements, and mild language

Running time: 111 minutes


Todd Graff (dir.)

Josh A. Cagen (screenplay)

Todd Graff (screenplay)

Josh A. Cagen (story)


Aly Michalka as Charlotte Banks

Vanessa Hudgens as Sa5m

Gaelan Connell as Will Burton

Scott Porter as Ben Wheatly

Ryan Donowho as Basher Martin

Charlie Saxton as Bug

Lisa Kudrow as Karen Burton

Tim Jo as Omar


(Left to right) Charlie Saxton, Gaelan Connell, Alyson Michalka and Tim Jo star in Bandslam

- An E1 Films Release


Our reviews below:

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Bandslam Review By John C.

***1/2 (out of 4)

What I found most surprising about the opening scenes of Bandslam, is that it was actually making some smart and funny observations about different types of music and the people who listen to them. More surprising is how much I enjoyed this film. The script is smart and genuine, both in its scenes of comedy and drama, and the writers also really know music.


The story follows Will Burton, who is almost like a walking encyclopedia when it comes to music, but at school is a loner. When him and his mom move to New Jersey, one thing leads to another and he ends up managing a school rock-band. The trio of a bass player, guitarist and lead singer Charlotte (Aly Michalka), soon becomes a full-fledged band. Will recruits a cellist, pianist and saxophone players to give them a a fuller sound, and to increase their chances of making it to Bandslam, a “battle of the bands” type competition.


When it takes a more serious turn about half an hour from the end, it started to feel like something that the late, great master of teen comedies with heart, John Hughes, would have produced back in the ‘80’s or ‘90’s.


It also has a surprisingly great soundtrack, featuring a crazy-fun cover of Bread’s 1972 hit “Everything I Own” remixed to a Ska/Reggae beat. As well as playing a prominent role in the script, some of David Bowie’s songs are also heard.


I walked in not expecting much, and I left very pleasantly surprised. The only real problem with the film is that one character, Charlotte’s boyfriend Ben Wheatly, is meant to be about 17, but looks more like 25. Sure enough, he’s played by 30-year old Scott Porter.


Centered around teenagers, there are so many routes they could have gone with this film. But, the characters are never obnoxious, there’s no foul language, and practically no sexual content. This is truly a film that a 7 year old can enjoy, just as much as a 17 year old. And I think adults will like it pretty much equally. This is a smart, truly entertaining crowd-pleaser that audiences are really going to love.


It’s a very smart marketing move by Summit Entertainment (American distributor) and E1 Entertainment (Canadian distributor) to show the trailer for The Twilight Saga: New Moon before the film. Anyone who goes to the movie just for the trailer will leave having loved the film. This “little indie that could” could easily end up being one of the break-out hits this summer.

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Bandslam Review By Erin V.

***1/2 (out of 4)

In Bandslam, main character Will is happy to leave his old Cincinnati high school for New Jersey, since the only people who acknowledge the fact that he exists in Cincinnati, do so in order to bully him. In New Jersey, he is given the opportunity for a fresh start, and soon becomes the manager of a 'struggling to get off the ground' school band...


I was pleasantly surprised by Bandslam. I thought it looked about **1/2 stars judging by the trailer, but I am happy to say that it is a much better film by far. Yes, the storyline is kind of clich├ęd in it's own way, and not all that complicated, but the characters all change throughout the film, which is something that you generally want to see. The main characters are all likable, and well acted by the wonderful young cast here. The film has some great humour in it, although it never reaches the point of being too silly.


I also loved the music choices for this film. Some of the retro sounds that they have chosen over more modern music was great, and all of the cast were really playing their respective instruments, which is always more authentic to see. The idea that all music is rooted in each other, so those from different musical backgrounds can play together, was a concept I was glad to see explored as well. Bandslam is a movie that has great music, with both humour and heart. This is one you definitely should see this Summer.

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Bandslam Review By Nicole

***1/2 (out of 4)

When I first heard about Bandslam, I figured it would be entertaining, but just your average movie for preteens. I was happy to discover that Bandslam was more than that. The main character, Will Burton, is an average, slightly geeky 16 year old. Every day, Will writes a letter to David Bowie, hoping to get a response. (Will's letters become the narration for the film.) And every day, Will is bullied at his Cincinnati school.


Things start to improve however, when Will and his mom move to New Jersey. Here at his new school, Will puts his love of music to good use, when he gets recruited by a girl named Charlotte to be manager of her band. Will also becomes friends with a girl named Sa5m (the 5 is silent), through a school assignment.


The band, which Will names "I can't go on, I'll go on", has really taken shape with Will as manager. And with the annual high school band competition, Bandslam, coming up, Will and his friends have a lot of work to do.


Through Will's new school, Will develops friends, and even finds love. And through music, Will finds healing for a tragedy in his past. The ending of Bandslam is very heartwarming.


I really liked Bandslam. The music is great, and the young actors are really playing and singing. The story line is intelligent, and the acting is decent. The only minor flaw is that while Charlotte's ex boyfriend is meant to be 17, he is played by a 30 year old who looks 30. However, he is not really a main character, and is not a big part of the film.


Bandslam is a completely clean movie. It has been ages since I have seen a live action film, not produced by Disney, that has not even one swear word. There are no sex scenes, and no drug, alcohol, or drug references anywhere in this movie whatsoever {at least not in a positive light}. While the PG rating is deserving, for a mature theme, this movie is fun for anyone ages 8 to adult. Go out to see Bandslam, for toe-tapping family fun.

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Bandslam Review By Maureen

***1/2 (out of 4)

Bandslam is an uplifting, full of musical energy, better than average, teen comedy. This film surprised me. I went in not expecting much and found myself smiling, toe tapping, and rooting for the characters right through to the end.


Main character Will Burton (Gaelan Connell) is a geeky, music loving teenager who is teased and bullied at his Cincinnati High School. Will copes by writing regular letters to his hero, David Bowie. A lot of Will's thoughts are narrated to the viewer through the letters.


Life seems to improve when Will and his mother move to New Jersey. At the new school Will is recruited by popular senior student, Charlotte Banks (Aly Michalka) to help her manage her new band and maybe beat out previous Bandslam finalist Ben Wheatley (Scott Porter) and the Glory Dogs at this year's competition. Will meets up with and recruits an interesting mix of musically inclined misfit students for Charlotte's band. Will also is paired up with classmate, Sa5m (Vanessa Hudgens) for a Human Studies class project.


The dialogue in Bandslam is witty without being over the top. The characters are quirky and fun and the acting excellent all around. The highlight of course is the music. Aly Michalka and Vanessa Hudgens do a great job with the vocals. The Bandslam competition is energetic and fun. The ending works with a nice twist.


Overall, this is a movie with a lot of heart and soul and lots of good music. Bandslam had my heart when Will's band, "I Can't Go On, I'll Go On" sings an updated version of '70's group Bread's "Everything I Own". Vanessa Hudgens nailed it. I really enjoyed Bandslam. This is good clean fun for the whole family. If you are looking fora fun, energetic movie to end the Summer, Bandslam is it. Go out and enjoy.

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Bandslam Review By Tony

***1/2 (out of 4)

Will Burton (Gaelan Connell) didn’t fit in at his Ohio high school. His eclectic musical taste wasn’t appreciated there and he was bullied. Moving to New Jersey with his single mother (Lisa Kudrow) he found at his new school an E-Street style band entering the Bandslam competition for a $10000 prize and record deal. In a Human Studies mutual profile assignment he was teamed up with (the 5 is silent) Sa5m (Vanessa Hudgens). He was also recruited by Charlotte (Aly Michalka) to help out in the school daycare centre. While Sa5m at first appeared cynical and depressed, Charlotte was full of energy, starting up a garage band that had broken away from her former boyfriend Ben’s (Scott Porter) competition band. Charlotte realized that in spite of his awkwardness, Will’s talent would make him a perfect manager for the band. He immediately set to work finding students to fill out their basic 3 guitar sound with drums, a keyboard, horns, and a cello and whipping them into shape. With a bit of coaching from the worldly Charlotte, Will was developing a relationship with Sa5m, but his devotion to the band put a strain on it. After a few twists of fate, the competition arrived with their band now fronted by Sa5m rocking out a good cover of a Bread song that had an excellent chance to win. I won’t spoil the ending.


Never being interested in any of the High School Musical franchise, we didn’t expect to like Bandslam that much. However, we have really enjoyed School of Rock, and with its more substantial story I liked Bandslam even more. The music was good and the cast was fine, though Lisa Kudrow was a bit annoying and Scott Porter (having just turned 30) looked just too old for high school. As a bonus, its freedom from vulgarity makes it appropriate for the whole family.

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Vanessa Hudgens stars in Bandslam - Photos Credit: Van Redin

- Courtesy of E1 Entertainment

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Consensus: A surprisingly good movie, with great music, humour, and heart. Bandslam is one that you really should check out this Summer. It's a lot of fun. ***1/2 (Out of 4)

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Tim Jo, Alyson Michalka and Charlie Saxton star in Bandslam

- Photos Credit: Van Redin - Courtesy of E1 Entertainment

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