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Movie Review: Bandslam

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Author/Source: Jeramy Chapman

Topic: Movie Review, Reviews

A review of Bandslam, including description of the movie, areas of concern, teachable themes, discussion questions, and scriptures to use.

Movie Review: <i>Bandslam</i>

Overview

“How big is this Bandslam thing?”

“Texas football big.”

Will ‘Dewey’ Burton is a 15 year old classic rock lover who seems to typify the angst ridden high school freshman. Picked on by bullies and basically shunned by everybody else, Will sees an opportunity for a fresh start when he and his mom move to New Jersey taking with them a sad secret and a love for old rock.

While the new school follows the ‘different location, same kind of people at first, Will meets another brooding teen in the form of Sa5m (the 5 is silent) and is befriended by Charlotte, a former cheerleader who’s dying father has inspired her to change her selfish lifestyle. Perhaps there is a light at the end of the angst tunnel for Will.

Enter Bandslam, a Battle of the Bands type concert, where the winning band receives a recording contract. Charlotte, after leaving her old band, decides to begin anew with a goal of winning Bandslam. After observing Will firsthand and discovering his keen insight into classic rock, she convinces Will to become their manager and together, they embark on an adventure of discovery into themselves and deliver an insightful film on life, death and the challenge of turning adversity into a second chance to shine.

This movie was certainly NOT what I expected. After seeing the cast, I made an assumption this was another HSM/Camp Rock/Disney type movie. Wow, was I wrong. This movie is geared towards teenagers, plain and simple.

Will Burton is a lover of all things classic rock: ska, punk, progressive, alt but especially David Bowie. One might even consider him ‘an old soul’ in a teenage body. He is a compassionate, open and insightful young man who provides inspiration to those around him. The film follows in these footsteps by approaching teenage life with the same free spirited attitude and resolve.

This is not a film for children, but not because of any overly inappropriate content (see concerns below). Instead, the subject matter is one that really passes over their heads. Will carries with him a dark, sad secret that seems to follow him wherever he goes. Charlotte is a young woman battling with the grim reality of her father’s illness. Not uncommon to people dealing with death, she seeks deals with God or anybody else who can save her father’s life. She even goes so far as to leave behind her old friends and life and undertake a great ‘experiment’ in hopes that her change in behavior might help her dad.

Concerns

All things considered, Bandslam is quite a clean movie. There is no language, no sex and no drug/alcohol use. However, we see Will and his friends sneak into a club to see the competition, Charlotte sneak into Will’s room (with innocent intentions) and a 17 year old student hit on Will’s mom (thanks to Will lying about mom actually being his 23 year old sister). Sa5m invites Will to go see Evil Dead 2, a campy, horror movie that is rated R (“They don’t card there”).

Will struggles with his feelings for both Charlotte and Sa5m that culminates into several humorous scenes dealing with first kisses. While dealt with in a light hearted manner, some parents may find this as an opportunity to visit about dating while others could find this uncomfortable.

While I personally enjoyed the music, it is not a kid friendly soundtrack. Utilizing such bands as Velvet Revolver, the Clash, Ramones & David Bowie, lyrics can, at times provide awkward conversation for parents.

Teachable Themes

  • Perseverance

  • No matter how difficult circumstances become, we can overcome and use the adversity to make us stronger.

  • Honesty

  • Healthy relationships require open and honest communication

  • Forgiveness

  • In spite of how others treat us, forgiveness allows us to receive healing.

Discussion Questions

  1. Will spends quite a bit of time idolizing David Bowie as a replacement father. Why can it be bad to place so much trust in a person?

  2. In the movie, Charlotte makes the statement, “I am SO going to heaven,” after helping Will with a problem. Can a person get to heaven by doing good deeds? Why or why not?

  3. Will carries with him a deep and sad secret about his father. What are some healthy ways he deals with this secret? Does he make any bad choices?

Conclusion

Bandslam could be the teen sleeper hit of the year. It is truly an insightful look into teenage life and can provide great opportunity to open lines of communication into such topics as: death, honesty, friendship, relationships and self-confidence. While not a movie most kids would enjoy, I would certainly recommend parents with teenagers going to see Bandslam together.


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