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on March 18, 2010
There are great movies out there that become classics. There are movies out there that stink to high Heaven. There are art films that most people just don't get. And then there are movies that are nothing more than a load of fun. Such is the case with BANDSLAM.

BANDSLAM tells the tale of Will Burton (Gaelan Connell), a withdrawn teen in Cincinnati who can't stand his high school. Not part of any crowd he's pleased as can be when his mom (Lisa Kudrow) decides to quit her job and move the two of them to New Jersey where her sister has found her new work.

Will's love of music should make him a shoe in with the new kids but alas, such is not the case. Instead he discovers that the same cliques roam the halls of the new school just like the old. With one exception. Rather than high school sports being the main event, this school is pumped up for something called Bandslam.

At lunch one day a student takes the stage and introduces the local heroes, a band called Ben Wheatley and the Glory Dogs. As they begin to play, Will looks towards the stage and notices a girl sitting at his table named Sa5m (the 5 is silent) played by Vanessa Hudgens. When he asks her how big this Bandslam is here she tells him "as big as Texas football".

In class, Will and Sa5m are partnered up in an exercise the teacher has put together where two students get to know each other and then tell the rest of the class who that other person is. They can use everything from visual aids like slides or film to poetry. These two different individuals don't start well but eventually grow on one another.

At the same time Will catches the eye of Charlotte (Alyson Michalka). She snags Will into helping her sit the kids in a pre-schoolers class and then hooks his Ipod into the sound system. When Will tells her that his dad is a side musician who played with The Who, she invites him to hear her band at practice.

Will accepts, attracted to Charlotte who he obviously has no chance with. After hearing the band he tells them his opinions of how they sound and act. Hoping to improve themselves with Will's help in an attempt to take out the Glory Dogs (of which these were the original members till Ben kicked them all out), they follow his suggestions and add to the group. With a little work and perseverance, they begin to look like they have a chance to be the second band representing their high school at Bandslam.

Along the way Will and Charlotte become close friends. But Sa5m has warned Will from the start, girls like her are just trouble. While their friendship grows, Will and Sa5m become close as well, more along the couple type line.

A few mistakes in how to deal with friends, girlfriends, moms and more round out the story. Toss in Charlotte's being Ben's ex girlfriend that he wants to get back with and you have the makings for teen angst in a nutshell. Will Charlotte stay with the band? What is Charlotte's big secret? Will Will unite this rag tag group into a band? Will the band discover Will's misrepresentation of himself? And what about Will and Sa5m? All is answered before the final moments of the film.

What makes this movie fun is the joy of music that is observed by all. While these kids talk a good talk about loving independent music like the early Ramones, etc., their sound doesn't come close to resembling it. But it doesn't matter. They have a youthful enthusiasm and it shows. And actually a ska rendition of the classic Bread song "Everything I Own" turns out to be pretty good.

Most people will toss this movie into the category of the HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL films. But it seemed to me to be less Disney and more John Hughes, kind of a combination of the two. The film does call for a healthy dose of suspension of belief, but it doesn't matter. Why? Because it's fun!

I've always thought that movies should be entertaining before anything else. This film offers that. Will it be one that folks will reference when talking about cinema? No way. Will it be one that people will remember forever? Nope. Will it offer a nice easy evening of entertainment? Definitely.

A decent (though unbelievable) story, a good looking cast, pretty good acting and some fairly good music make this a movie you can enjoy and the kids can watch as well. Give yourself a break, bypass the blood and guts or high art for one night and have some fun with BANDSLAM.
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on April 13, 2010
Having been a professional in the music biz for more than 40 years, I can't help but be ultra critical of rock 'n` roll movies. More often than not, a director with little or no sense of this peculiar world's idiosyncrasies or any interest at all in depicting it accurately offers the audience a ridiculous spectacle that has no connection with reality. Cameron Crowe hit the nail square on the head with his brilliant Almost Famous. With Bandslam, Todd Graf comes close enough to pass muster, while accomplishing a classy, compelling, and thoroughly entertaining film along the way.

Achieving such grounded performances from his youthful cast, it seems obvious that Graf is a director of enormous promise. Lisa Kudrow reaffirms her status as one of Filmdom's most under-appreciated and nuanced actors who invariably keeps in touch with her emotionally truth. The dialog is cool and smart, understated, and the story unravels believably, albeit predictably in its conclusion. These kids are real enough to strum your heartstrings, and colorful enough to keep your interest throughout. The songs are superbly composed and uncompromising; in fact, they even have integrity (this coming from the author of two books on songwriting).

I loved this movie, and I look forward to Todd Graf's next offering. May I recommend my snarky-yet-moving, new novel/mock-memoir Grand Pop?

Rand Bishop, author of Makin' Stuff Up, The Absolute Essentials of Songwriting Success, and the novel/mock-memoir Grand Pop.
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on March 6, 2010
I saw this film last Summer not expecting much but was pleasantly surprised-it was pretty good! Sure it is chocked full of teen movie cliches like Vanessa Hudgens' social outcast character, Sa5m; Gaelan Connell's dorky character Will; Alyson Michalka as the cliquey popular girl Charlotte and Scott Porter as the jockhead who hates geeks and dorks and anyone who tries to make a move on his girlfriend, Charlotte.Somehow director Todd Graff has managed to take all these been-there-done-that, seen it all before elements and turned it into a very entertaining musical film. The film moves along at a nice pace and the musical scenes are very well done especially when Will decides to add more instruments to the band that he's organized to try to win the local Battle of the Bands competition.I also
like their ska version of Bread's 1973 hit "Everyting I Own". Even the closing credits were entertaining as the band
led by Sa5m on electric guitar play throughout. A very polished production that was made for about $20 million and should have been a sleeper hit for Summit Entertainment last Summer but failed at the boxoffice due to poor marketing that relied too much on Hudgens' connection to the Disney High School Musical franchise and it looks like the Blu-ray in the U.S has been cancelled(but will be available in the U.K. I'm not sure if it will be region free or not.).Buy the DVD
if you live in the U.S. and hope and pray that a Blu-ray version will come out eventually.
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VINE VOICEon August 18, 2009
When Will (Gaelan Connell)'s mom gets a new job, he has a chance to change high schools and reinvent himself. In movie tradition, he meets both a feisty brunette and a hot blonde, and gets to spend a lot of time hanging out with them. The brunette loves to read and has a pretty good voice; the blonde recruits Will to manage their band (her boyfriend's got a band, too) so they'll be ready for a competition called Bandslam. The brunette (Vanessa Hudgkins) turns out to be vulnerable beneath her tough exterior. The blonde is a former cheerleader with her own Wikipedia page, and Will can't quite believe she likes him. You can probably tell where this is all going, but it's a sweet movie and manages to feel fresh despite the clichés.

Here the parents of the teens are either completely absent or always in the same room. Lisa Kudrow plays Will's helicopter mom, who we always see hovering over her son, including in the bathroom while he showers. Unlike so many movies where the kid's parent shows up at the last minute to watch his performance in the Big Show, she's right there the whole time selling t-shirts and cheering.

Frankly, I liked "School of Rock," in which Jack Black plays a substitute teacher who organizes a multicultural group of kids to compete in a rock concert better. The musicians seemed to be having a lot more fun performing. You could believe, for once, that it was their love of music, and not just a desire to win, that was driving them. Also, even if the "SOR" characters' were stereotypical, most of them at least got a storyline. Here it's just Will's character and the two love interests.' The rest of the characters are ciphers, but you root for them anyway.
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on June 20, 2013
One of our all time favorite movies..we need to buy a copy. Great story line great music, and yes it is a "fluff" movie for fun not for the drama, but it is the best of it's kind. Forget School of Rock..Bandslam blows it out of the water.
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on December 26, 2011
I picked up this movie (and a few others) for myself this year while Christmas shopping. I popped it in the DVD player late Christmas night, totally unplanned, and was pleasantly surprised at the across-the-board quality of the production including the music. The musical performance at the end was really good (you'll probably go back and watch that again a few times), and the cool part about all the performances is that when you see someone playing an instrument, they're actually playing it (that was a requirement during casting). I didn't really notice while watching, but as others have pointed out, it's a very clean movie as well. Great movie, check it out!
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on December 8, 2011
I thought this film was great the first time I saw it and seems to get better everytime I watch it and I think it is a great addition to any collection. It arrive promptly and on time when I ordered it so all in all a very great purchase and experience.
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on August 15, 2009
The only words i can use to truly describe this movie are "Terrific, amazing, spectacular, moving, fantastic, heart warming, ..." This movie is a must see. Do not let the numbers from the first week affect what you may think about this movie. Watch it and let everyone know what you think. I promise you will only be disappointed if you are purely narcissistic.

The Movie tracks Will as he goes from the no so invisible "DWI" (Pronounced do-ee) to the music man of our day. He moves to get away from his old school where he was made fun of because of his past. At his new school he meets Sa5m (the 5 is silent, played by Vanessa Hudgens) who is a quiet book worm. The two pair up in Human studies (something like that) on a project to find out who the other person really is. During this project he meets the highly forward Charlotte Banks(Aly Michalka), a very spunky help all save the world attitude. Charlotte acts as Will's tutor of life and love while will him self teaches her about what music really is.

This is the basic description. Go see the movie without question.
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on July 14, 2013
Why is there not a blu ray Bandslam? I've been waiting for three years for the blu ray verson to come out for this wonderful movie. Ok, so it wasn't a huge marketing success, but it was one of the most enjoyable movies I've seen in a long time, and I collect hundreds of movies, and know for a fact that many many crappy movies get blu ray, but not this gem. Why? It's high time Bandslam gets a blu ray release!
Dewey...
Dewey...
Do We Want to Rock!!!
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on September 6, 2010
I really really love this movie. It's got all the high school movie elements, all the sports movie elements, and two really great twists. Vanessa especially really out does herself acting wise. Could anyone ever imagine her as the down and lonely introverted outcast before they saw Bandslam? Love the monotone. I think she just nails it.
Love the music. Love everything about it. Definantly my favorite movie right now. It's also my friend's 3 year old daughter's favorite movie, so there you go. Fun for all ages.
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