‘This is sick!’ says budding impresario Will Burton (Gaelan Connell) as he constructs a rock’n’roll band from his fellow high school students to take part in a battle-of-the-bands competition. The description ‘sick’, obviously meaning, that his band are quite good, and Todd Graff’s detailed account of the internal creative differences of Will’s band portrays the grimy business of making the devil’s music as the healthiest of pursuits for any youngster.
But Will’s path to being a pop svengali is littered with casualties. His budding relationship with Sa5m (High School Musical’s Vanessa Hudgens, returning with a silent 5 in her name) is complicated by flirtation with lead singer Charlotte (Aly Michalka), and there’s also Will’s concerned mother (Lisa Kudrow) and some bullying issues to be addressed over Bandslam’s excessive running time.
Writer/director Graff is ideally placed to provide the same line in teen savvyness he brought to 2005’s Camp, making Bandslam refreshingly character-driven, although the music world is presented in the absurdly sanitised way expected from a Walden Media/Disney production. David Bowie features in an unlikely cameo, presumably as a role model to all young people to emulate, minus, of course, the sex, drugs and Tin Machine side-projects.
(PG) 110 min. Out now on selected release.