Home > In review > In Review: Bandslam (2009)

In Review: Bandslam (2009)

The recent wave of bored middle-aged American music critics, fresh from being an integral part of the destruction of print media over the past few years, deciding to pretend that Disney pop is worth talking about has sadly passed me by. Possibly because I don’t live in my parents’ basement.
Anyway, two of the “names” coughed up by this movement are in Bandslam: Vanessa Hudgens, who (sub-editors please put unfunny gag about naked cameraphone photos here, thanks) and Alyson “Aly” Michalka who, with her sister AJ, formerly made up the band Prussian Blue.
Bandslam is a confused, if not confusing, film. It’s an attempt at a Disneyfied “indie” movie (not an independent movie, they’re different things). So we get armbreakingly “hip” soundtracks, unrealistic dialogue, and credits and logos drawn in the flickering style of an overly precocious child.
Within three minutes of the film opening, in lieu of developing his character, we’ve had close-ups of protagonist Will Burton’s Bloc Party posters and Belle & Sebastian CD collection. He then goes on to reference the Eels. Later on in the movie, “Blister In The Sun” is used as a “everyone will recognise this” reference point. You have to remember here that this movie is aimed at folks who were still breastefeeding when “Novocaine For The Soul” dropped, and hadn’t started attending school by the release of “Legal Man”. Holy fuck our generation is close to death.
Hudgens plays a Sheedy-in-The-Breakfast-Club stand-in, called “Sa5m, the 5 is silent”. Just to reiterate, a film aimed at 14-year-olds is directly referencing An Evening Wasted With Tom Lehrer.
How much of this film is supposed to be taken seriously? Are we meant to take, without irony, two characters breaking into a deserted, decrepit CBGBs and having “a moment”? Characters going “Evil Dead 2 is my favourite movie, you should see it with me”? Characters apologising to other characters for not going to see Evil Dead 2 by making a video compilation of their favourite things soundtracked by “Young Folks”? God knows.
The plot is wafer-thin: Will’s dad killed someone in a car accident, he was an outcast at his old school, so he moves to Jersey with his mother, Lisa Kudrow with the most botoxed forehead of the year. In New Jersey, will discovers there are Kids Like Him, makes friends with try-too-hard ex-cheerleader Aly and Hudgens-in-black-nail-varnish, and forms a band called I Can’t Go On, I Will Go On (quoth Will: “It’s a name like Get Cape Wear Cape Fly or Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, who are both awesome bands”). They win a recording contract after David Bowie enjoys them covering “Everything I Own” in a ska-pop style at a talent show. I know, right?
I want Bandslam to been teen flick canon. It’s the first film that’s felt worthy of such since Mean Girls, and it’s probably the best bad teen film since A Cinderella Story. Nothing here makes sense, subplots are skipped over rapidly without finish, all Asian characters are depicted as slinty-eyed punchlines, Hudgens would be more convincing as WG Grace than an emo girl, Will Burton has the dead eyes of a serial killer (and at one point he says “Without punk there would be no The Killers”, again without irony), and the scenes with his mother are full of heavily awkward sexual tension that I don’t think the director intended. This film needs to be cult, now.

Also, Elvy Yost, who plays the movie’s uptight cellist, needs to holler at your boy asap, so I can pour espresso martinis down her throat.

Bandslam

The recent wave of bored middle-aged American music critics, fresh from being an integral part of the destruction of print media over the past few years, deciding to pretend that Disney pop is worth talking about has sadly passed me by. Possibly because I don’t live in my parents’ basement.

Anyway, two of the “names” coughed up by this movement are in Bandslam: Vanessa Hudgens, who (sub-editors please put unfunny gag about naked cameraphone photos here, thanks) and Alyson “Aly” Michalka who, with her sister AJ, formerly made up the band Prussian Blue.

Bandslam is a confused, if not confusing, film. It’s an attempt at a Disneyfied “indie” movie (not an independent movie, they’re different things). So we get armbreakingly “hip” soundtracks, unrealistic dialogue, and credits and logos drawn in the flickering style of an overly precocious child.

Within three minutes of the film opening, in lieu of developing his character, we’ve had close-ups of protagonist Will Burton’s Bloc Party posters and Belle & Sebastian CD collection. He then goes on to reference the Eels. Later on in the movie, “Blister In The Sun” is used as a “everyone will recognise this” reference point. You have to remember here that this movie is aimed at folks who were still breastefeeding when “Novocaine For The Soul” dropped, and hadn’t started attending school by the release of “Legal Man”. Holy fuck our generation is close to death.

Hudgens plays a Sheedy-in-The-Breakfast-Club stand-in, called “Sa5m, the 5 is silent”. Just to reiterate, a film aimed at 14-year-olds is directly referencing “An Evening Wasted With Tom Lehrer“.

How much of this film is supposed to be taken seriously? Are we meant to take, without irony, two characters breaking into a deserted, decrepit CBGBs and having “a moment”? Characters going “Evil Dead 2 is my favourite movie, you should see it with me”? Characters apologising to other characters for not going to see Evil Dead 2 by making a video compilation of their favourite things soundtracked by “Young Folks”? God knows.

The plot is wafer-thin: Will’s dad killed someone in a car accident, he was an outcast at his old school, so he moves to Jersey with his mother, Lisa Kudrow with the most botoxed forehead of the year. In New Jersey, will discovers there are Kids Like Him, makes friends with try-too-hard ex-cheerleader Aly and Hudgens-in-black-nail-varnish, and forms a band called I Can’t Go On, I Will Go On (quoth Will: “It’s a name like Get Cape Wear Cape Fly or Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, who are both awesome bands”). They win a recording contract after David Bowie enjoys them covering “Everything I Own” in a ska-pop style at a talent show. I know, right?

I want Bandslam to been teen flick canon. It’s the first film that’s felt worthy of such since Mean Girls, and it’s probably the best bad teen film since A Cinderella Story. Nothing here makes sense, subplots are skipped over rapidly without finish, all Asian characters are depicted as slinty-eyed punchlines, Hudgens would be more convincing as WG Grace than an emo girl, Will Burton has the dead eyes of a serial killer (and at one point he says “Without punk there would be no The Killers”, again without irony), and the scenes with his mother are full of heavily awkward sexual tension that I don’t think the director intended. This film needs to be cult, now.

Also, Elvy Yost, who plays the movie’s uptight cellist, needs to holler at your boy asap, so I can pour espresso martinis down her throat.

I like 'em cute, round tits and fat asses/ Educated, so I can bust nuts on they glasses
I like ’em cute, round tits and fat asses/ Educated, so I can bust nuts on they glasses
Damn.
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