I try not to hate a movie before I have even seen it. After viewing the previews to this movie it really worked my gag reflex. But I am willing to give things the benefit of the doubt.
The movie was shot here in good ol’ Austin, TX. It features Disney stars Aly Michalka (of Aly & AJ, Phil of the Future fame) as the former popular cheerleader turned charismatic rockstar and Vanessa Hudgens (High School Musical 1-3) as the oddball teenager that develops a crush on new kid in town Will, played by Gaelen Connell (Chocolat).
Will Burton, having been an outcast at his other school gets the chance to start fresh in a new town and school. He gets connected with Michalka’s character, Charlotte, and has the opportunity to help her band transform into something capable of winning the much coveted Bandslam (a battle of the bands competition that is “Texas Football BIG”). He tries to accomplish this feat by taking on the role of manager and using his vast musical knowledge.
Now I was under the impression that the two female leads, having been Disney actresses for many years, were well seasoned. I have never seen Hudgens in any of the High School Musical movies and I am doubtful I ever will based on her poor performance in this film. Her character, Sa5m (the 5 is silent), is the odd emo kid with a weird way of speaking. It gets annoying really quickly. Michalka’s character is slightly less irritating as the ex-cheerleader with the supposed heart of gold. She was humorous and has a lovely singing voice but I had trouble when it came to her delivery of the more emotional scenes in the movie which honestly weren’t any better from leading man Connell. Their performances felt really forced and often over the top. The more emotional scenes that they share together where the truth about Will’s father comes out was more laughable than tear jerking.
The movie also features two local bands (Joker and The Daze) as well as local morning DJ Bobby Bones from the popular 96.7 KISS FM morning program, “The Bobby Bones Show”. It was a pleasure to see the talented bands perform. The saving grace for me in this film was Lisa Kudrow who plays Will’s mother. Every seen she is in she steals. Every joke she made cracked me up. Her dramatic scenes choked me up. I love her.
The hardest thing for me to swallow was David Bowie making a cameo appearance. Ziggy Stardust? Really? This film?
My views on this movie are obvious but I’d like to think that no movie is a complete waste of time. You can usually find some redeemable quality if you look hard enough. Hopefully this film will get kids googling more info on CBGB’s (the place Will takes Sa5m) and learning about all the different bands and the impact that venue had on music. Or perhaps they will start downloading Bowie tracks. But I think the most important thing about this movie is getting kids to pick up instruments. Having been a band/orchestra geek myself, I wish I would have had the guts to start a band when I was younger so if this movie happens to be the motivation that some kid needs to make that happen, then this film wasn’t a complete waste of time.