By John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service
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
Tim Jo, Alyson and Charlie Saxon star in a scene from the movie "Bandslam."
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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