Revisiting Bandslam and How It Stands Out as a Teen Musical – Film Stories

band slam looks like any other teen musical in the musical high school era – but here’s what sets it apart.

This article contains spoilers for Bandslam.

There was a time, in the middle2000s, when the musical high school franchise was as essential as Frozen is to modern ears, and following its success, a plethora of pre-teen pop musicals have hit the market. While many lazily used the same formula hoping for lucrative returns, others were willing to take a few more risks.


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The one that stands out is the one from 2009 band slam. With posters prominently displaying the alumni musical high school actor Vanessa Hudgens and her exDisney star Aly MichAlka, the trailer presents the film as almost a carbon copy, the story of an underdog overcoming adversity to perform at the titular competition. In reality, the film that the public had when going to see it was a little more mature. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t sometimes veer in the same directionand saccharin territory, but the real Bandslam of the title is really not at the heart of the story.

Gaelan Connellin his first leading role, is Will, a terribly shy teenager who moves to a new school and struggles to make friends. So far, so Disney. But director Todd Graff sets his stall as soon as he shows Will’s relationship with his mother, played by Lisa Kudrow. Their dialogue is enriched with wit and sarcasmit’s a relationship that feels real.

The script is credited to Graffincluding the first film in 2003 Camp, covered similar ground, and Josh A. Cagan, who was going to write a teen comedy The Duff. AAlthough it repeats the bare minimum of what might otherwise have been a Disney Channel original movie, its characters set it apart. References to Thin Lizzy, the Velvet UndergroundPeter Tosh and Keith Richards are perhaps the first indication that this is a movie that doesn’t belittle its audience. A thread running through the film sees will writeand letters about his life to David Bowiandwhich is a neat device that both showcases the character of Will while allowing for exposure.

The characters also go against the stereotypes of teen movies. Take Charlotte, pposed by Aly Michalka. IIn any other film, she would probably have been presented as a ‘mean girl’ who gets the protagonist in trouble.. Here, she’s the one pushing Will out of his comfort zone, taking what initially appears to be genuine interest in him, which is the catalyst that sets off the rest of the plot. It turns out that Charlotte is the lead singer of a struggling rock band, who can’t even agree on a name. Will, with his almost encyclopedic book musical awarenessandbegins to bring together the disparate pieces, the abrasive drummer to an entire horn section. They start to fit together musically, and Will begins to come out of his shell.

Along with this is the budding friendship between Will and Hudgens’ Sa5m (the 5 is silent). While it might fit the stereotype of a guy caught between two girls with diametrically opposed personalities, what sets this story apart is that none of the characters are outright antagonists. Each of the women is both flawed in her own way – Sa5m is deeply suspicious while Charlottehis benevolent nature East too good to be true – but ultimately, they’re both type people, which is a nice change from the cookie-cutter “good” and “bad” stereotypes normally associated with movies like this.

Bandslam Aly Michalka

One of the film’s other running gags is that Will is constantly called “Dewey”, which isn’t explained until two-thirds of the way through the story. Throughout the film, Will quickly rejects talking about his father, explaining it as a touring musician. Turns out Will’s dad was in fact detained after drinking while driving and killing a child, hence the nickname Will (DWI, Driving While Intoxicated). All of this is revealed in a beautifully written monologue near the end of the film by Lisa Kudrow..

It’s a plot point that would never come close to a Disney movieand it proves that filling a storyline with more mature themes while delivering the sweet musical suggested by the trailer is possible.

The music featured in the film is another aspect that sets it apart from similar films of the time, with an eclectic range of rock, ska and reggae both featured and mentioned. – what other modern teen movie would see its central characters make a pilgrimage to visit legendary New York club CBGB?

The crowning glory comes to the titular Bandslam like the band – now called I can not continue, I’m going keep on going are forced at the last minute to change their song choice to the only one Sa5m knows – Everything I Own. What follows is a barnstorming performance in which each member of the group has their chance to shine in the spotlight. This ending mirrors a plethora of similar movies, it has to be said, perhaps most notably school of rockbut I would say that by this period, the film has woned this.

band slam is also notable because, in his final moments, David Bowie comes across as himself. A video of the band goes viral and Bowie, loving their sound, finally responds to Will’s email with a promise to sign them to his label. It’s a bittersweet moment, because as nice as seeing it, it would be Bowie’s last film performance.

Hudgens would fully embrace her adult side just a few years later, when director Harmony Korine cast her in 2013. spring breakers. To date, Connell has starred in only one other feature film, the 2013 one The Secret Lives Of Poor guywhile MichAlkcontinued to perform and write music. To date, Graff’s last film was the gospel-inspired musical, 2012it’s Joyful Noise with Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah.

Vanessa Hudgens may be the connective tissue between musical high school and band slam, but the latter was the first film to really show off her range, both as an actress and a singerPhilippe French from The Guardian compared her performance favorably to that of Thandiwe Newton and Dorothy Parker.

In its desire to embrace more mature themes and take risks with its characters, band slam East a movie that stalls remarkably well for repeat viewing.

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