Bandslam
PG
Entertainment: +3
Acceptability: +3

Main actors: Gaelen Connell, Vanessa Hudgens, Alyson Michalka, Lisa Kudrow. Director: Todd Graff.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Teenager Will Burton (Gaelen Connell) moves with his single mom, Karen (Lisa Kudrow), from Cincinnati to New Jersey because Karen knows the bullying her son endures daily at school. Will’s hero is David Bowie and his passion is music. When he learns about the new high school’s upcoming Bandslam competition, Will is motivated to become a part of it. With his mostly self-taught musical knowledge he can adapt cello, brass, keyboard and guitar to create original musical sounds. Charlotte Banks (Alyson Michalka), former prom queen and cheerleader and a talented musician, joins Will and together they assemble their own musical group of “outsiders.” Meanwhile Will becomes friends with sullen Sa5m (the “5" is silent) (Vanessa Hudgens) in a class project.

Several cast members have been part of the High School Musical TV movies and are very talented. Band rehearsals and the musical numbers add to a story line that is touching, witty and thought provoking. Bandslam is not the typical “misfit wins heart of campus beauty queen” movie but an entertaining experience for the whole family.

PREVIEW REVIEW: It is so refreshing to see a teen film that salutes their creativity and dedication while acknowledging their need for genuine friendship. Will, Charlotte and Sa5m learn from each other. Sa5m can’t believe Charlotte’s transformation from self-centered snob to a compassionate, strong leader is genuine, and Will and Charlotte help each other face the truth about the loss of a parent. Seeing the motley group of socially challenged musicians come together playing their hearts out will hopefully give cynical critics of our youth pause.

Also commendable is Will’s relationship with his mom, Karen. They are best friends and she tells him he can’t let his tormenters ruin his life because “if you miss out on life, they win.” As much as she loves Will, it is difficult to let go when he begins spending more time with new friends than with her.

Also refreshing is the absence of teen drinking, crude humor and sexual behavior. Foul language includes two or three crude expressions used to taunt Will and one or two profanities. There is a strong message about the cruelty of bullying and humiliating that can be a real problem on school campuses. The effects can be devastating to sensitive teenagers trying to figure out how to “belong.”

In a nutshell, Bandslam offers families an opportunity to enjoy together a positive film about teenagers’ amazing ability to overcome adversity by sharing their talents and imagination.

Preview Reviewer: Mary Draughon
Distributor: Summit Entertainment

Summary
Crude Language: A few crude insults about a teen’s manhood
Obscene Language: Once (boy mouths the letters “f” and “u”)
Profanity: Few (exclamatory, Oh, G)
Violence: Kids push boy off of school bus, pushing and shoving
Sexual Intercourse: None
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: None
Drug Abuse: None
Other: Verbal abuse (kids shout insults at boy who doesn’t fit in)
Running Time: 111 minutes
Intended Audience: Teens and Adults

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