Starring: Aly Michalka, Vanessa Hudgens, Gaelan Connell
Director: Todd Graff
Running Time: 111 mins
Bandslam is an American film about a music-loving kid who arrives at a new school and, after struggling to make friends, becomes the manager of a band preparing for a big concert at the end of term. However, his relationships with two girls during this time become somewhat complicated.
More than just a throwaway high-school movie, Bandslam manages to deliver a genuinely captivating story while entertaining through sweet humour and some really fun music. With strong performances from its lead trio, it’s a likable watch, and despite a few disappointingly generic moments, Bandslam is a genuinely lovely movie.
First things first, it’s important to note that this isn’t quite as fluffy or simple as the likes of High School Musical. It’s not an expressly complex or groundbreaking film, but Bandslam is a lot more focused on its characters and its story than it is the songs, with the music used as a tool to shape the central relationships at play here.
So, if you’re looking for lots of fun-loving songs and not too much in the way of challenging drama, then Bandslam isn’t exactly for you. However, the strength of the movie is that, over the course of its nearly two-hour runtime, it really does spend a good amount of time developing its characters to the point that you feel a strong connection with them.
In the lead role is Gaelan Connell, who gives an impressively assured performance alongside Vanessa Hudgens and Aly Michalka, ultimately his two love interests and the focal points of the film’s drama.
Admittedly, there isn’t anything particularly special about the love triangle dynamic that Bandslam strikes up, with Hudgens playing the quieter counterpart to Michalka’s ‘dream girl’ bombshell, and the film does disappoint in its latter stages with the way in which it tries to resolve Connell’s mixed feelings towards the pair of them.
That said, it’s a testament to the depth of the screenplay that you even care about the three lead characters, and that the few moments which are more generic and outlandish actually feel like a disservice to some very well-acted and well-established young characters.
Along with the nostalgic joy of a group of kids setting up a band and taking on the world, this film does a wonderful job at making those kids realistic, intelligent and likable people, and a far cry from the generic high school personalities you so often see in Hollywood movies.
As a result, Bandslam almost overdelivers on its potential, and while it’s not exactly a masterpiece, it’s a thoroughly likable film that proves far more engaging, entertaining and emotionally captivating than most in a similar bracket. So, that’s why I’m giving Bandslam a 7.4 overall.