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Stars: Gaelan Connell, Vanessa Hudgens, Aly Michalka, Lisa Kudrow, Scott Porter
Director: Todd Graff
An energetic teen musical with a blockbuster climax, this is pretty enjoyable. Bullied at school over his musician father's drunken demeanours, Will (Connell) is overjoyed when his slightly eccentric dog-trainer mother (Kudrow) announces they're moving from Ohio to New Jersey.
Enrolled in high school there, Will attaches himself to fellow-loner Sa5m (Hudgens) - the '5' is silent - and encounters reformed bimbo cheerleader Charlotte (Michalka) and her two-man garage band. Charlotte wants the band to take on The Glory Dogs, led by Ben, her ex (Parker) whom she still fancies, but Will, who has an encyclopedic knowledge of music, tells her the band will need a lot more personnel.
He dragoons in a drummer with anger management problems, a stroppy girl cellist (Elvy Yost), a classical pianist (Lisa Chung) and a three-man brass section. Pretty soon the band is sounding sensational, and Will's romance with Sa5m (whom he discovers is, like Charlotte, a singer) is blossoming - but the inevitable spanners in the works arrive when a jealous Ben investigates Will's past and Charlotte proves to have been slumming to improve her image (and her father's health).
Naturally it all boils over on Bandslam night, and Will's band's closing number, Everything I Own, now with Sa5m as singer, is simply sensational.
Some of the cliches of Hollywood high school fare are, of course, present, but the 'growing up' arc of some of the characters is done with pleasing grace, and Kudrow has some good moments as the mom who finds herself fancied by the band's drummer. Strangely Connell, himself a professional singer and guitarist, doesn't get to play a note.
USA 2009. UK Distributor: E1! Films. Colour by FotoKem.
112 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: PG.
Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.
Review date: 07 Aug 2009