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"BANDSLAM"
(2009) (Gaelan Alexander Connell, Alyson Michalka) (PG)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Minor Minor Heavy None None
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Moderate None None Minor Minor
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Mild None Heavy Heavy Minor


QUICK TAKE:
Dramedy: A music-loving introvert becomes the manager for a high school band and its charismatic lead singer, all while hanging out with his new friend for whom he starts to develop romantic feelings.
PLOT:
When his mom, Karen (LISA KUDROW), gets a new teaching job in New Jersey, teenager Will Burton (GAELAN ALEXANDER CONNELL) moves with her there from Cincinnati where he was routinely harassed by his classmates, resulting in him withdrawing into his love of music. Now with a blank slate at his new high school, Will hopes to start life anew, and ends up being befriended by Sa5m (VANESSA HUDGENS), a quiet, book-reading girl who not only informs him that the 5 in her name is silent, but that he's also arrived in the world of Bandslam.

That's a tri-state rock band competition that's as big as Texas high school football and where the winning group is awarded a recording contract. This year's favorite is Ben Wheatley and The Glory Dogs, fronted by Ben Wheatley (SCOTT PORTER), but Will finds himself more interested in Charlotte (ALYSON MICHALKA), the former head cheerleader and prom queen turned social do-gooder who recruits Will to help her run their school's daycare center.

Sa5m warns Will about her, saying that appearances can be deceiving, and he soon learns that not only was she once Ben's girlfriend, but she was also in his band. She still plays with the likes of guitarist Omar (TIM JO) and bassist Bug (CHARLIE SAXTON) in an unofficial garage band, but being aware of Will's expertise in the genre, she allows him to make suggestions.

That eventually involves expanding the band to include the likes of drummer Basher (RYAN DONOWHO), as well a cellist, pianist and three-man horn section. As Will helps Charlotte get her band in shape for Bandslam, she helps him in the finer points of romancing Sa5m for whom he's now developed romantic feelings.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Since it's about high school kids, being in a band, and has romantic elements and such, some kids might be intrigued by it.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG
For some thematic elements and mild language.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • GAELAN ALEXANDER CONNELL plays a high school student who moves away from Cincinnati -- and taunting by his classmates - to New Jersey where he befriends both Sa5m, for whom he develops romantic feelings, and Charlotte whom he helps with her garage band by becoming their manager. At first, he's an introvert who feels he doesn't fit in, retreating into his love and knowledge of music, and is awkward around girls, but all of that changes as the story progresses.
  • ALYSON MICHALKA plays the former head cheerleader, prom queen and apparent snob who changed her ways to appease her dad, and now helps run an in-school daycare center, works as a waitress, and gets back into band stuff upon meeting Will. She also schools him regarding romance with Sa5m.
  • VANESSA HUDGENS plays a mostly withdrawn girl at school in Will's class who becomes his friend, but warns him about Charlotte and her kind. They eventually become a romantic item.
  • LISA KUDROW plays Will's mother, who wants to give him some added leash, but is concerned about him growing up and apart from her.
  • CHARLIE SAXTON and TIM JO play the original members of Charlotte's garage band.
  • RYAN DONOWHO plays the drummer with anger management issues who Will convinces to join the band and has a thing for Karen.
  • SCOTT PORTER plays Charlotte's ex-boyfriend and leader of his own band who wants to get back with her romantically, but wants to defeat her band. He also increasingly acts like a jerk toward Will.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    Here's a brief summary of the content found in this dramedy that's been rated PG. There's a possible slang term for a girl's buttocks, while a few religious and some colorful phrases are uttered. Some brief kissing and making out are present. There's brief physical contact between some students and others, while a student takes out his anger on an old car in the auto shop where he works.

    There's a reference to past alcoholism of a never-seen character (including related vehicular manslaughter). That involves some tense family material of which there are other entries, while bad attitudes are present, as is potentially imitative behavior.

    Should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, you may want to look more closely at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.

    For those concerned with bright flashes of light on the screen, there are some slight/partial strobe effects during concert performances.

    For those prone to visually induced motion sickness, there's bouncy camerawork from time to time in the film, as well as a spin-around shot later in the film.



    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Will equates school as Novocain for the soul.
  • Karen tells Charlotte that her former husband was an alcoholic who drank every afternoon and ended up driving over and killing a kid while in that state. She then says that when her husband was put away for that, the related leftover anger was focused on Will.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • Karen wants the family dog to bring her some Maalox, but instead it brings her some Ex-Lax.
  • There's a metaphor-based comment "if you rip me a new one" (presumably anal related).
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Another student purposefully knocks Will down by a school bus, and then he or another student pours some liquid out the bus window onto Will's head.
  • About Ben coming back and pretending like he didn't wrong her, Omar and Bug, Charlotte asks him if he has a head injury (some viewers might not like that sarcastic question).
  • A young girl in daycare goes up to a sleeping teacher and smacks him across the face.
  • Another student refers to Will's curly hair as his "little afro" (he's white).
  • Will lets Basher believe that Karen is his sister in order to convince Basher to join the band as the drummer. He then convinces his mom to go along with that for the same reason.
  • Sa5m convinces Will to join her in entering a closed rock club without permission. When Will mentions all of the punk bands who played there and about which she's oblivious, Sa5m states, "I'm starting to feel like a Japanese tourist."
  • Will ends up standing up Sa5m on their date at a movie theater (as he goes to a concert instead).
  • Ben orders those in his band to dig up dirt on Will, but they refuse, complaining that they don't work for him.
  • Ben digs up dirt on Will and then acts like a jerk toward him, including calling him "Dewey" in relation to his father having a drinking problem (DWI), including vehicular manslaughter.
  • We learn that Charlotte changed her ways (head cheerleader, apparent snob, etc.) just to appease her father, and thus her involvement with Will and the band was just an experiment on her part (she later apologizes to them about that).
  • We learn that Will lied about his dad (to avoid the related shame about his father's past).
  • Right before Will's band is to perform in the Bandslam contest, Ben's band takes the stage before them and steals & performs the song they were going to play.
  • After someone in the audience yells at "Dewey" at Will up on the stage by himself, others then join in, eventually resulting in much of the audience chanting that in unison (although most don't know the context of the taunt).
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • None.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • None.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Buddy up," "Idiots," "Morons," "You are a weirdo, aren't you?" "Dude," "I bloody well told you," "If you rip me a new one," "I did not screw them over," "Do you have a head injury?" "Sucks(s)," "Your little afro," "Who's the babe?" "I dig older chicks," "That was sick," "Are you kidding me?" "I'm starting to feel like a Japanese tourist," "Shut up," "I'm such a jerk," "I cried like a little girl," "That would be -- hello -- weird," "Screw this up" and "...see you guys kick some serious butt."
  • A miscellaneous guy has a facial piercing.
  • In the school's day care, one young student paints on another's leg, while a third student eats glue/paste.
  • Omar adopts a fake British accent from time to time.
  • Bug has his mouth against a window and blows, thus making his mouth and cheeks appear to be huge.
  • A young girl in daycare goes up to a sleeping teacher and smacks him across the face.
  • Basher apparently has anger management issues and is seen banging on an old car in the auto shop where he works.
  • Karen and others give the rock concert hand gesture of a raised hand with the index finger and pinky extended.
  • We briefly see Charlotte in a midriff-revealing top.
  • We briefly see miscellaneous graffiti.
  • Charlotte is a wild driver and doesn't believe in using her turn signals.
  • At a concert, Will falls backwards into the crowd that then passes him overhead from person to person.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • None.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • Some students in class do a bit of a rap song that includes a line about "He likes the girls that got the junk" (presumably referring to a body part, such as "junk in the trunk" a.k.a. buttocks).
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 1 possible slang term for a woman's rear ("junk"), as well as 2 uses of "Oh my God" and 1 use each of "For God's sakes," "God" and "Oh God."
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Seeing a picture of Karen but not realizing she's Will's mother, Basher asks, "Who's the babe?" and states, "I dig older chicks," stating that they get him.
  • Some students in class do a bit of a rap song that includes a line about "He likes the girls that got the junk" (presumably referring to a body part, such as "junk in the trunk" a.k.a. buttocks).
  • About those who performed in a punk club, Will mentions various bands, including The Sex Pistols.
  • Upon learning Will's never kissed a girl, Charlotte decides she'll show him (for his education). She then has him move some hair from her face, put his hand on the back of her neck, and then kiss her. He does, but is very awkward in doing so, and thus the scene plays entirely for comedy rather than passion or real sexuality of any sort.
  • Will then tries the same with Sa5m while seated next to her outside. This also plays for comedy, with Will awkward flustered by her wearing a hat, so he quickly knocks it off, and then ends up petting her head rather than caressing her, and then struggles with her over the book she's holding (both tugging on it, until he yanks it out of her hand and tosses it aside). They do, however, end up kissing.
  • Charlotte shows a little cleavage.
  • We briefly see miscellaneous clothed making out at a concert.
  • Basher briefly kisses Karen.
  • Will and Sa5m briefly kiss while clothed.
  • SMOKING
  • None.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • The way Charlotte mentions her dad, Will thinks he died. Charlotte says he's alive, but was sick last summer.
  • Will mentions his dad being a backup musician in various bands, that he was never around, and that's why his mom divorced him (SPOILER ALERT: we later learn this is a lie to save face).
  • We hear that Charlotte's father has died, and see her afterwards, grieving.
  • We learn that Will lied about his dad (to avoid the related shame about his father's past, noted next).
  • Karen tells Charlotte that her former husband was an alcoholic who drank every afternoon and ended up driving over and killing a kid while in that state. She then says that when her husband was put away for that, the related leftover anger was focused on Will.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Starting or being in a high school band.
  • Will equates school as Novocain for the soul.
  • Will saying that moving to New Jersey will mean "different kids, same me."
  • Sa5m states she used to stutter and later sarcastically jokes about hearing a stutterer laugh as "Ha (long pause) ha."
  • The comment to always do the thing that scares you.
  • The comment that leopards and cheerleaders don't change their spots.
  • Charlotte is a wild driver and doesn't believe in using her turn signals.
  • Sa5m's observation (and class report) that Will is like a reflective surface to everyone but himself (meaning he pleases others by changing into what they are, but that he doesn't know who he is).
  • We learn that Charlotte changed her ways (head cheerleader, apparent snob, etc.) just to appease her father, and thus her involvement with Will and the band was just an experiment on her part (she later apologizes to them about that).
  • Karen tells Charlotte that her former husband was an alcoholic who drank every afternoon and ended up driving over and killing a kid while in that state. She then says that when her husband was put away for that, the related leftover anger was focused on Will.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Another student purposefully knocks Will down by a school bus, and then he or another student pours some liquid out the bus window onto Will's head.
  • One student accidentally knocks down a female student.
  • A young girl in daycare goes up to a sleeping teacher and smacks him across the face.
  • Basher apparently has anger management issues and is seen banging on an old car in the auto shop where he works.



  • Reviewed July 25, 2009 / Posted August 14, 2009

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