2009-12-03 13:25

What it’s about:

When gifted singer-songwriter Charlotte Barnes (Alyson Michalka) asks new kid in town Will Burton (Gaelan Connell) to manage her fledgling rock band, she appears to have just one goal in mind: go head-to-head against her egotistical musician ex-boyfriend, Ben, at the biggest event of the year, a battle of the bands. Against all odds, their band develops a sound all its own with a real shot at success in the contest. Meanwhile, romance brews between Will and Sa5m (Vanessa Hudgens), who plays a mean guitar and has a voice to die for. When disaster strikes, it's time for the band to make a choice: Do they admit defeat, or face the music and stand up for what they believe in?

What we thought:

What do you get when you add two Disney manufactured pop tartlets (Vanessa Anne Hudgens and Alyson Michalka), one Speed Racer (Scott Porter), a bit of Chocolat (Gaelan Connell) and a Friend (Lisa Kudrow)? A rocking high school melodrama filled with bittersweet moments.

Charlotte is the popular girl with a secret while Sa5m (the five is silent) is the social outcast. They both befriend Will for different reasons. Will is not your average teenage boy. He is a devoted David Bowie fan and his vast knowledge of music arrangement and production will amaze you. While Charlotte asks Will to manage her misfit band so that she can go up against her egotistical musician ex-boyfriend at the battle of the bands, Sa5m is more interested in getting their class assignment complete. What no one anticipates is a friendship and the lines of socialism cut as they form a bond and rock out.

Director Todd Graff, who also directed comedy-musical Camp (2003), lets the music speak for itself and delves into the social cast system in high schools while exploring what it’s like being to be social outcast when status is held so highly. Music is the universal language that brings everyone together and this powerful message is brought across with a sense of fun. However, the songs are bland and not even Vanessa’s whiny voice can save them from sounding disposable.

Be aware that this is no High School Musical follow-up, so don’t expect the musical numbers to erupt at the drop of a hat. There is some rather deep and sentimental dialogue with lots of feelings attached. Fans of Disney's tween music stars such as Ashley Tisdale, Demi Lovato and Jonas Brothers will know what to expect, but anyone looking for a realistic look at what it takes to make it in the music industry will learn nothing of value here.

This one is for all those teen music junkies who know that rock 'n roll can be fun for kids too.

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