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John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

Tim Jo, Alyson and Charlie Saxon star in a scene from the movie "Bandslam."
Residents of Lodi, N.J., will likely be pleased with the plot of "Bandslam" (Summit/Walden); the citizens of Cincinnati not so much. That's because the teenage hero of this genial comedy with music finds social success in the former burg after being bullied and harassed by his peers in the latter, the Queen City.
When his divorced mother, Karen (Lisa Kudrow), relocates east, friendless high school student Will (Gaelan Connell) sees the chance for a fresh start with a new image. Even his fondest hopes are surpassed, though, when popular, attractive cheerleader-type Charlotte (Alyson Michalka) befriends him, initially drafting him to work at the day care center where she volunteers.
Discovering that Will possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of pop music, Charlotte makes him the manager of the floundering rock group she fronts as lead singer. They're preparing for the titular competition, where they hope to best the formidable band led by Charlotte's ex-boyfriend, Ben (Scott Porter).
As Will—with a swiftness only possible on the big screen—transforms both himself and his new proteges, his confidence gets a further boost from his blossoming romance with bookish goth Sa5m (Vanessa Hudgens). (The 5, she explains, is silent.)
Naturally there are complications, and the youthful cast, which generally delivers the comic and musical material with aplomb, is less adept at navigating the dramatic passages.
These more downbeat scenes deal with a few mature topics, such as the fatal consequences of a long-ago drunk-driving accident. But the nearest thing to edgy material is a running gag about the group's drummer, Basher (Ryan Donawho), who declares his preference for "older chicks," and becomes mildly infatuated with Karen.
The script, co-written by director Todd Graff and Josh A. Cagan, makes it abundantly clear that this comic fancy will lead to nothing.
Despite its classification, "Bandslam" is unlikely to interest very young viewers. But this exuberant salute to clique-defying friendship is free of anything unsuitable for the tween-and-up audience at whom it's aimed.
The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is A-I—general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG—parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.
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Mulderig is on the staff of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

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