If ever a movie was an example of what happens when a company has no idea how to market it it, Bandslam is it. The film garnered almost universal praise by critics, including being listed as a Critics Choice selection at the Critics Choice official site, and being listed as one of the top ten summer movies by Rotten Tomatoes yet, for some bizarre reason, Summit decided that the best way to market it was not as a quirky, clever, funny indie movie (or "an awkward, earnest, almost irresistible indie" as Variety put it) but instead a High School Musical Lite. The reason for this is obviously simple - Vanessa Hudgens (who is excellent as the darkly funny Sa5m, who yet again gathered praise for her performance) was obviously in the HSM series so they decided as opposed to doing their own marketing they would instead try and tack onto that fanbase, which is fine in theory if it hadn't been that humour and issues would bypass a large percentage of the demographic that the HSM series is predominantly aimed at. The leading man is not Zac Efron, the storyline is not about who wins the game - it's about bullying and acceptance, and bereavement and accepting that some things you can't change and some things you can and finally becoming comfortable in your own skin. When the film is funny, it is very funny (see Lisa Kudrow pretending to be a groupie or Will and Sa5m's first kiss), when it is sad it is tragic (Aly Michalka and Gaelan Connell both hit it out the park in a certain scene) and you find yourself cheering on the underdogs. This is a film with no stereotypes - the villain of the piece is no villain, simply a guy who misses his girlfriend and who feels threatened by the new guy, the hero is a typical teenage boy who does stupid things like make up stories about his dad, and writes emails to David Bowie or stands up a girl at a movie theatre so he can go see a concert. The whole concept is about being more than you seem and sadly, if it had been pushed right, it would have been a much bigger hit. When you have articles written about the botched up job that Summit did marketing the film, with everyone from Variety to the New York Times giving it praise, you really shouldn't have any doubt that it's worth watching.
It's a film that will leave you smiling and as one reviewer said - 'a surprising thing happens on your way to hating Bandslam, you kind of can't.' Do not be fooled by the marketing - if you give it a chance you will not be disappointed.