Reviewed by: Thaisha Geiger
|Featuring:||Alyson Michalka (Charlotte Banks), Vanessa Hudgens (Sa5m), Gaelan Connell (Will Burton), Scott Porter (Ben Wheatly), Ryan Donowho (Basher Martin), Charlie Saxton (Bug), Lisa Kudrow (Karen Burton), Tim Jo (Omar), Elvy Yost (Irene Lerman—Cello), Lisa Chung (Kim Lee—Keyboards), J.W. Wright (Dylan Dyer (Glory Dogs—Guitar), Blair Bomar (Megan), Casey Williams (Ms. Wittenberg), Maggie Maye (Kyra 17-1), Jennifer Blair (Kyra’s Friend), Zach Thatcher (Kid Talking About Miles), Derek Cox-Berg (Rapping Boy #1), Matt Hensarling (Rapping Boy #2), Cassidy Johnson (Slapping Girl), Landon Henninger (Rory), Michael Cuomo (Mr. Berry), Nathan McCray (Glue Boy), Kai Roach (Glory Dogs Bass), Chris Copeland (Glory Dogs Drummer), James Hairston (Glory Dogs Saxophone), Chance Morgan (The Burning Hotels Guitar / Vocals), Matt Moody (The Burning Hotels Guitar / Vocals), Marley Whistler (The Burning Hotels Bass / Vocals), Wyatt Adams (The Burning Hotels Drummer), Farah White (Sa5m’s Mom), Nikka Graff Lanzarone (New Art Teacher), Bobby Bones (Bandslam MC), Jonathan Rice (Stage Manager), Ryan Ciardo (Bully at the Bus Stop), Will Johnson (Scott Donnelly), Bryan Chafin (1st Kid), Rebecca Petro (2nd Kid), David Bowie (Himself), Valin Zamarron (Hip Hop Group 'Zeale'), Candice Jackson (Hip Hop Group 'Candice'), Manjeri Krishna (Hip Hop Group 'DJ'), Benjamin Kessler (ICGO Saxophone), Andrew Glen Rector (ICGO Trombone), Juan Lopez (ICGO Trumpet), Evan Butts (The Daze Guitar / Vocals), Chris Ritchie (The Daze Bass), Aaron Lemke (The Daze Drummer), Krystal Morton (Art Class Girl), Todd Graff (Screaming Teacher), Julian Riano (Dewey Kid), Joey Olivares (Rock-N-Roller), Joshua Montoya (Screaming Fan), Nadia Sahari (Charlotte’s Aunt), Paul Leblanc (Indie Rocker), Michelle Brew (Cheerleader—uncredited), Kurt Cole (Student—uncredited), Bethany Esfandiari (Haiku Girl—uncredited), Mark Holliway (Restaurant Patron—uncredited)|
|Producer:||Goldsmith-Thomas Productions, Summit Entertainment, Walden Media, Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, Ron Schmidt, Marisa Yeres|
“Music has the power to rock your world”
Will Burton (Gaelan Connell) is a social outcast whose passion is music. Not only does he have excellent musical taste, he also holds a vast knowledge of the different genres and blending melodies. When his mom gets offered a job in New Jersey, Will sees this as an opportunity to start a new life. Once there, he meets “Sa5m” (Vanessa Hudgens) who’s very pretty, but oddly stoical.
Also eyeing him from the distance is Charlotte (Aly Michalka) who befriends Will. Unsure of why she so quickly offers him friendship, Will seemingly goes along, happy to finally have a friend. Once she finds out his musical knowledge, she asks Will to become the band manager of her incomplete group. Their aim is to compete in Bandslam, where the winning band scores a record contract and $10,000.
This film is refreshingly different than most movies for young people. While the plot is a bit slow at times, it deals with real-life themes with a tastefulness that is rare in films. I have always felt that kids are much more capable of dealing with serious topics than they are given credit for. While the movie dealt with these important issues, there are still plenty of appropriate laughs to be had.
“Bandslam” is very enjoyable, with the characters being well-rounded and having their own flaws. While Will becomes somewhat selfish in his pursuit of creating the band, he sincerely apologizes and is even shown to be very forgiving to those who do him wrong. There were moments where he could have retaliated, but never did. Lisa Kudrow is pleasant in her role as Will’s mother. In the end, she has a moving scene with the person who deeply betrayed Will. Through her hurt, she’s able to show how compassionate her son is, along with displaying some forgiveness herself. The mom and Will’s actions are a perfect representation of Romans 12:21 which states “do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
There isn’t any cursing, and I believe I heard the Lord’s name about two times. I hesitate to classify them as profanities, because Will’s mom might have actually been speaking to God. The English slang “bloody” is used twice. Some lying takes place, but only negative repercussions occur from the deception.
The most questionable content happened between the drummer Basher Martin and Will’s mother. When convincing Basher to join the band, he saw a picture of Will’s mom and said that she was cute. Will lied and said that she was actually his older sister. Believing this, Basher would sometimes wink at her. Although she did go along with the lying, the mom never returned the flirting and would often leave.
There are three kissing scenes in the film which are all close-lipped and brief. In the end of the film, Basher unexpectedly kisses Will’s mom. Charlotte teaches Will how to kiss and tells him where to put his hands (only on the face), and briefly kisses him. He also sweetly kisses Sa5m.
One character prayed to God to help one of their loved ones. In return, they promised to be nice to everyone. After the death of their relative, they returned to their former self. In short, they were trying to buy God’s compassion. We can never buy God’s love or compassion. In Ephesians 2:8-9, Paul reminds us:
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”
With the above reservations, I recommend “Bandslam.” I did not think I’d enjoy it as much as I did. More than likely, only older kids will benefit from the strong themes. The film could serve as an awesome platform for strong discussions on how to act when others wrong you and the gift of God’s grace.Violence: Minor / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: None
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.