The ‘E’ is Silent, But Not the Fun

band-slamWith certain films, you don’t know what you have until years later. It could be a multitude of things, some of which could be big named franchises being released around the same time, or a slew of younger and unknown stars on the cast looking to make a name for themselves.

In the case of Todd Graff’s “Bandslam,” it’s a combination of both.

Despite possessing a good-looking and energetic young cast and enough good music to get a deaf man groovin’, this film will get lost in the theaters this summer, particularly due to films like “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” “District Nine,” “G.I. Joe,” and “Transformers 2.”

That doesn’t mean it’s passable though. In spite of some apparent flaws in the pacing and back story department that make the film feel like its plot is controlled by a pinball, there’s enough fun, humor and cuteness here to make it worth a trip to theaters and possibly a purchase on DVD to boot.

Feeling like a combination of “Nicky and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” and “School of Rock” with a pair of slabs of Disney and Nickelodeon wholesomeness for good measure, “Bandslam” is heart-warming teen comedy that manages to do a solid job of making adults too feel compelled by the events that unfold. Yeah, it’s corny and corny as hell at times, but it’s all in good fun and will induce more smiles than a day at the petting zoo.

The relationship between Will Burton [played by Gaelan Connell] and the intriguing Sa5m [played by the increasingly gorgeous and multi-talented Vanessa Hudgens] will take you back to your first love and the awkwardness and fun surrounding it. For those whose hair has thinned out over the years and a few pounds have been added to their waste lines since their band days came to an abrupt halt, there’s something here for you as well.

Love and music have always made a good pair and in the case of “Bandslam,” that love affair is still alive and strong.

The music part is handled well by Hudgens, who simply lights up the screen [time to escape the shackles of the teen flicks Ms. Hudgens, you’re doing yourself a grave disservice] and co-star Alyson Michalka who too can sing with the best of them. Added humor comes from Hung’s Charlie Saxton, who’s portrayal of Bug is a perfect fit, considering it’s a teen movie about young bands. Lisa Kudrow also does an admirable job as Burton’s mother, adding some on-screen maturity to balance out all the young faces. Playing the caring, but cool mother, Kudrow injects a nice amount of wit into a film that could have been overly cute otherwise. The handful of scenes she has with Connell are all clever and add another dimension to a film that focuses mainly on teenage angst and music.

In spite of everything the film has going for it though, it often moves at a speed too fast for its viewers. Key plot developments unfold too quickly and back stories aren’t explained as much as they could be, making it feel like a movie based on a television series [where the viewer knows more about the characters], rather than a full-fledged big screen feature. These elements hurt, especially considering how good these young actors are and how much fun the film is otherwise.

Nevertheless, “Bandslam” rises above these problems and is able to strike a chord with its audience.

Again, while it’s far from a summer blockbuster and its small hiccups limit its true potential, this film is tuned well enough to ensure that it’s target audience and even those a few years older leave with a smile on their face.

About Patrick Hickey Jr. 13222 Articles
Patrick Hickey Jr. is the Founder, Editor-in-Chief, Master Jedi and Grand Pooh-bah of and is the author of the book, "The Minds Behind the Games: Interviews with Cult and Classic Video Game Developers," from leading academic and non-fiction publisher McFarland and Company. He is currently the Assistant Director of the Journalism Program at Kingsborough Community College and is a former News Editor at NBC Local Integrated Media and a National Video Games Writer at the late He has also had articles and photos published in The New York Times, The New York Daily News, Complex and The Syracuse Post-Standard. Love him. Read him.

1 Comment

  1. I have followed all the reviews of Bandslam due to be a fan of Vanessa. Let me just say I agree completely with your criticisms and assessment of the movie. Lucid, balanced review. Best review I have read. (except this really funny, but thats beside the point) Keep up the good work.

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