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BANDSLAM, 2009
Movie Review

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BANDSLAM MOVIE POSTER
BANDSLAM, 2009
Movie Reviews

Directed by Todd Graff
Starring: Alyson Michalka, Vanessa Hudgens, Gaelan Connell
Review by Matthew Toffolo



SYNOPSIS:

An outcast (Connell) bonds with the popular girl on campus (Michalka) over their shared love of music, and together they decide to form a rock group and enter their school's upcoming battle of the bands competition.

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REVIEW:

I can't go on, I will go on. The perfect name for a teenage band because that's how high school seems to feel for everyone. No matter if you're a jock, a dork or somewhere in between, your days as a teenager are filled with so much angst and confusion you sometimes feel like you just can't do it any longer. But of course we all keep going and most of us are better for it in the long run.

High School is almost like a war experience. Except your emotions are the pains you avoid instead of the bullets of physical pain. One day you walk down the hall and get side-swipped by a grenade of insults. Another day you get out of a mess of potential hurt by a little thing like the bell ringing. The teachers seem to be dealing with the same problems as they usually have no idea what you're going through because they really don't care as they have their own problems to deal with.

The best thing to do in this environment is to team up with others. Usually in a situation where you have something in common so you all have something to do together plus learn from each other.

In the case of Bandslam, it's music. And a team of all the high school cliche characters join to make music and potentially win an upcoming contest. This story has been told many times before, but it usually has to do with sports and there is always that adult figure who serves as the mentor (coach) and knows things that the high school kids don't.

Bandslam doesn't have that mentor figure. And that's what separates this film from others. You think it does a few times, but this is a movie about teenagers all wanting to be that mentor but all realizing in the end that they all need each other and forming a band is a very socialistic thing. No one can be bigger than the band.

The main character of Bandslam is Will Burton. A kid we learn at the end who has gone through a lot in his 16 years on earth. He's one of those kids that we all recognize in the hallway from our high school memories but usually never talked to. He has a gift of understanding music and we learn that in the narrative trick they use in Bandslam where he writes to David Bowie on a weekly basis. He knows that Bowie won't write back, but uses this as his personal therapy.

The standout character of Bandslam is Charlotte Banks. That blond we all knew in high school who seems to have it all. She forms a friendship with Will that we don't get at first but in the end realize why she does it. She has the ability to bring out the best in Will. And by doing that Will then brings out the best in many others. We all need a Charlotte in our lives because their energy is magnetic and you just become a better person because of it.

The other two woman in Will's life are his mother, who sees the beauty in her child and understands that he must go off and live no matter if he gets hurt again. And Sa5m, the love interest who is just as sad as Will is in the beginning. Sometimes two negatives turn into a positive and this is that storyline in Bandslam.

I enjoyed Bandslam a lot. It reminded me of a 80s John Hughes movie. The movie is about people learning to be themselves and to love themselves for who they are. A common theme in the movies but an important one. Of course it's all about the journey to the bandslam competition and not really about the results.

This is just a film for teenagers to watch because it's true to their own lives. And sometimes all you need to do is pop your head into a room to experience joy.

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