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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Bandslam

By
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.
 
- - -
 
Mulderig is on the staff of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.


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Anthony Grassi: Anthony’s father died when his son was only 10 years old, but the young lad inherited his father’s devotion to Our Lady of Loreto. As a schoolboy he frequented the local church of the Oratorian Fathers, joining the religious order when he was 17.
<p>Already a fine student, he soon gained a reputation in his religious community as a "walking dictionary" who quickly grasped Scripture and theology. For some time he was tormented by scruples, but they reportedly left him at the very hour he celebrated his first Mass. From that day, serenity penetrated his very being.
</p><p>In 1621, at age 29, Anthony was struck by lightning while praying in the church of the Holy House at Loreto. He was carried paralyzed from the church, expecting to die. When he recovered in a few days he realized that he had been cured of acute indigestion. His scorched clothes were donated to the Loreto church as an offering of thanks for his new gift of life.
</p><p>More important, Anthony now felt that his life belonged entirely to God. Each year thereafter he made a pilgrimage to Loreto to express his thanks.
</p><p>He also began hearing confessions, and came to be regarded as an outstanding confessor. Simple and direct, he listened carefully to penitents, said a few words and gave a penance and absolution, frequently drawing on his gift of reading consciences.
</p><p>In 1635 he was elected superior of the Fermo Oratory. He was so well regarded that he was reelected every three years until his death. He was a quiet person and a gentle superior who did not know how to be severe. At the same time he kept the Oratorian constitutions literally, encouraging the community to do likewise.
</p><p>He refused social or civic commitments and instead would go out day or night to visit the sick or dying or anyone else needing his services. As he grew older, he had a God-given awareness of the future, a gift which he frequently used to warn or to console.
</p><p>But age brought its challenges as well. He suffered the humility of having to give up his physical faculties one by one. First was his preaching, necessitated after he lost his teeth. Then he could no longer hear confessions. Finally, after a fall, he was confined to his room. The archbishop himself came each day to give him holy Communion. One of Anthony’s final acts was to reconcile two fiercely quarreling brothers.</p> American Catholic Blog God of love, as I come to the end of this Advent season, my heart is ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus. I join with Mary in saying, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Nothing is impossible with you, O God.

 
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