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Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Bandslam Movie Poster Image
Music-driven teen flick is feel-good fun for parents, too.
  • PG
  • 2009
  • 111 minutes
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 14 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 43 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The band learns to put aside personal preferences to work together as a group, rehearsing day after day to meet Will's goals for them. Charlotte espouses her philosophy about doing what scares you most in order to confront your fears, and Will does just that, overcoming his shyness to meet new people.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Will is a good model of commitment -- to both goals and friends. He's true to his mother, Sa5m, and the band. The relationship between Will and his mom is sweet and realistic. Charlotte, although at one point a pretty negative role model, redeems herself in the movie's final scenes.


Ongoing flirting between a few characters leads to a "practice kiss" between Will and a friend -- and later between Will and the girl he wants to date. A high school senior thinks Will's mom is "hot" and eventually plants a surprise kiss on her. A couple of kisses among the Bandslam crowd.


Mild language includes "idiots," "oh my God," "morons," "nerds," etc.


Brands visible include Apple (Mac notebook and iPod), Twizzler, California Pizza Kitchen, Coke, Wikipedia, MTV, CBGB, and several other NYC tourist stops. Many musical acts are mentioned or played prominently throughout the film.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this music-filled high school flick stars tween favorites Vanessa Hudgens and Aly Michalka,so expect interest from kids familiar with their Disney projects.Although it's rated PG and doesn't have any drinking/smoking, violence, or strong language, the movie deals with a few mature themes-- like bullying, an absentee father, a chronically ill parent, and the ongoing quest for high school status. Be prepared for a few kisses, too (although nothing gratuitous), and product placement from the likes of Apple/iPod and Coke.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 10 year old Written byjames22 June 3, 2010

Good movie

Loved it! Very cute and liked the fact that there was no language, drugs or sexual humor. Some of the acting was off, but Hudgens' was right on.
Parent of a 10 and 12 year old Written byhcsmom August 13, 2010

Surprisingly good, nothing inappropriate!

This movie was a wonderful surprise. We rented it thinking it would be a predictable, slightly cheesy (yet enjoyable) High School Musical or Camp Rock type of... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byMattMan24 August 10, 2009

Good film for a teen's family. Not for most kids.

I've seen many reviews, clips, and talk shows about the film. It seems like a good comedy, although one child-beloved actress plays a hooker in which she a... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old August 3, 2010

Not for under 7s

This is great film for those of you who enjoyed high school musical. Although there may be a very small amount of language unsutible for younger children or pa... Continue reading

What's the story?

Frequently bullied high schooler Will Burton (Gaelan Connell) moves from Cincinnati to New Jersey with his supportive single mom (Lisa Kudrow). Prepared to once again be invisible, Will meets his match in Sa5m (the "5" is silent), a bookish-but-beautiful misfit played by Vanessa Hudgens, on his first day of school. Life changes even more dramatically when popular senior Charlotte (Aly Michalka) mysteriously befriends him and enlists him to manage her fledgling band as they prepare to compete in BANDSLAM, a multi-state competition for high school musical acts. Will instantly goes from friendless to juggling his friendship with Sa5m, his commitment to the band and Charlotte, and his responsibilities to his mom.

Is it any good?

Director Todd Graff's last film, Camp, was a delicious look at musical theater-buff teens, so it's not surprising that Bandslam (which is a good deal tamer than Camp) is such a charming little movie. Connell is perfectly cast as an adorable music geek -- and the fact he's not Zac Efron is part of the charm (Hudgens, after all, isn't playing Gabriela here). The movie makes you believe that young women as beautiful as Hudgens and Michalka would find Will attractive.

For parents who dig rock -- from classic to punk to indie -- Bandslam offers an amazing soundtrack, although not all the songs in the movie made it onto the official playlist. There's a recurring David Bowie joke that frames the story (Will writes him confessional emails), and in every scene at least half a dozen bands are discussed or played -- too many to count. The music (and Will's love for it) is what fuels the film, and whether it's Bowie or CBGB punk or the high school band Will pretentiously names I Can't Go On, I Go On, it all rocks.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the bullying and social jockeying that occurs in high school. Does this movie offer an honest, accurate depiction of that? Kids: How do you deal with bullying and cliques?

  • Dealing with the absence and/or loss of a parent is a heavy issue. How does the movie depict these themes?

  • What musical genres are mentioned in the movie? Kids: One of the main characters mentions how punk influenced later generations of musicians. Who influenced your favorite musicians?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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