The marketing for this film might make it look like a bad trawl through a ‘Fame’-meets-‘High School Musical’ dirge of unremitting awfulness, yet despite a join the-dots feelgood scenario and an overlong running time, Todd Graff’s ‘Bandslam’ turns out to be an unexpectedly pleasing treat for teenagers. Although ostensibly about preparations for a US college’s hotly contested Battle of the Bands tournament, the film’s real nucleus is the burgeoning will they/won’t they relationships that form between a nerdy teenage musicologist-cum-manager with a fixation on David Bowie (Gaelan Connell), a luscious Linda Ronstadt lookalike (Vanessa Hudgens) and a tall blonde bombshell (Alyson Michalka).
‘Bandslam’ is far from exceptional, but is saved by decent character development, a cluster of engaging performances and several amusing deadpan moments. Better still, a knowingly hip ‘School of Rock’ attitude to what constitutes good musical taste, coupled with a flock of seminal vintage and indie tunes, edge it towards something a little more agreeable than the majority of today’s generic, pop-laden teen romcoms. And besides, any film that ends with Wilco’s ‘What Light’ is fine in my book.