(Vanessa Hudgens, Lisa Kudrow, et al / DVD / PG / 2010 / Summit Entertainment)
Overview: A new kid in town assembles a fledgling rock band -- together, they achieve their dreams and compete against the best in the biggest event of the year, a battle of the bands.
DVD: When Will (Gaelan Connell)'s mom gets a new job, he has a chance to change high schools and reinvent himself. In movie tradition, he meets both a feisty brunette and a hot blonde, and gets to spend a lot of time hanging out with them. The brunette loves to read and has a pretty good voice; the blonde recruits Will to manage their band (her boyfriend's got a band, too) so they'll be ready for a competition called Bandslam.
The brunette (Vanessa Hudgkins) turns out to be vulnerable beneath her tough exterior. The blonde is a former cheerleader with her own Wikipedia page, and Will can't quite believe she likes him. You can probably tell where this is all going, but it's a sweet movie and manages to feel fresh despite the clichés.
Here the parents of the teens are either completely absent or always in the same room. Lisa Kudrow plays Will's helicopter mom, who we always see hovering over her son, including in the bathroom while he showers. Unlike so many movies where the kid's parent shows up at the last minute to watch his performance in the Big Show, she's right there the whole time selling t-shirts and cheering.
Frankly, I liked "School of Rock," in which Jack Black plays a substitute teacher who organizes a multicultural group of kids to compete in a rock concert better. The musicians seemed to be having a lot more fun performing. You could believe, for once, that it was their love of music, and not just a desire to win, that was driving them. Also, even if the "SOR" characters' were stereotypical, most of them at least got a storyline.
Here it's just Will's character and the two love interests. The rest of the characters are ciphers, but you root for them anyway. [EMB] This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Bandslam: Making the Band – a 22 minute featurette hosted by Hudgens and Michalka with interviews from the cast and filmmakers
Audio commentary with Hudgens, Michalka, Connell and director, Todd Graff
Nine deleted/extended scenes with optional director's introduction
Honor Society – Bandslam Music Video
Vanessa Hudgens - Musical Performance