After attempting to convince my daughter that the film she wanted to watch was The Time Traveler’s Wife, I was sorely disappointed when she announced that Bandslam looked like a better option.
Now I love my daughter; I must do. She is the only one person in this world who could encourage me into such films as High School Musical
and the like. Kids are fickle though as when you ask her favourite character from HSM, she announces “Gabriella
”. When asked why, she announces "because it Gabriella
is my middle name".
Now Vanessa Hudgens
in my opinion is a performer not an actress, who can pout on cue and sing (to some extent). She also has a talent for taking naughty photos of herself and showing the world. Needless to say I wasn’t happy about paying good money to see her and a bunch of unknowns singing and dancing for 90 minutes. I shouldn't have worried.
A new kid in town assembles a fledgling rock band -- together, they achieve their dreams and compete against the best in the biggest event of the year, a battle of the bands.
So I sit down with my extra large slushy in a leaking cup and as the contents gently slipped down my lovely white shirt, the title came up, my daughter gave a cheer and I gave a deep sigh. I would have rather cleaned out the fluff under my toenails with a Stanley knife than be there. I certainly had no intention of reviewing such tat.
However within a few minutes we were offered references to Pink Floyd, David Bowie and Mick Jagger. They are not supposed to do that! This was a kid’s film! My daughter looked perplexed and I suddenly paid attention.
Hudgens plays a support role in this flick (no bad thing) and spends most of the time hating everything in a Twilight-style emo kind of way. The protagonist is that of Will who is played by Gaelan Connell
. He comes across as a perfectly acceptable character almost as entertaining as the presently popular Shia LaBeouf. This geeky charm along with his dynamic with a very wrinkly looking Lisa Kudrow (his onscreen mother) made for great entertainment and shock of all shocks: I laughed (more than once).
In fact as the film progressed and the third main character was introduced (Aly Michalka
playing Charlotte) I found myself laughing a great deal more than my daughter. Yes, you couldn’t forget that this was another High School Musical clone, but with music that doesn’t make grown men squirm, this was shaping up to be a great film.
Perhaps it was the fact that I had such low expectations that I was so pleasantly surprised or perhaps it was a blue and red slushy dripping down my top but I’ll admit to liking it a little too much.
In fact Hudgens was the greatest let down in the film (up to the halfway point). I defy any filmmaker to make a teenager who hates everything that entertaining. As the character came out of her shell though and a new dynamic was born with the character of Will, the film reached heights that in my original book, were unheard of.
You cannot help then, but to hold Gaelan Connell responsible for making this an entertaining watch throughout. He manages to er...act; which is a great surprise in itself. The fact that his presence actually allows a good chemistry between all the characters onscreen with himself, is a testament to how good an actor he is.
That is not to take anything away from the others onscreen as Michalka is certainly capable of carrying a kid’s film. However as I implied before, this feels more like a family film and that is due to Connell.
In essence though, the fact that Bandslam seemed to entertain me more than my daughter is its biggest failing. Many comic moments within it were completely lost on my daughter as she sat there watching her old man laughing at clips such as the uncomfortable “first kiss” scene.
The music throughout was a refreshing change offering decent covers of old hits along with new tracks that didn’t make you hold your head in your hands whilst cursing the parents of the actors onscreen. In fact I leapt out of the cinema in search of a music shop trying to find the soundtrack. It truly was that good (just don’t tell anyone a grown man of 34 liked it).
I certainly look forward to seeing Gaelan Connell in future work if Bandslam was a good example of his abilities. Perhaps Mr Spielberg should take notice and consider a prequel to the quite useless Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull where Connell would take the place of the frustratingly bad LaBeouf.
Bandslam pitches itself as a children’s film and fails miserably. My daughter thought it was “good” and nowhere near as entertaining as High School Musical. I would rather two sequels be made of this than suffer another HSM marketing-athon. It is the ideal summer family film.
Parents, I urge you to take your children to see Bandslam and appreciate the fact that you’re likely to enjoy this film more than your kids. Think of it like watching the Muppets; enough content onscreen to make the younger audience happy and yet hiding a great deal of solid humour that will make adults wonder why they resisted to go and see it in the first place.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5