Australian Council on Children and the Media

Bandslam

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Short takes

Not recommended under 10, PG to 13 due to themes.

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Bandslam
  • a review of Bandslam completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 13 August 2010.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 10 Not recommended due to themes
Children aged 10-13 Parental guidance recommended due to themes
Children over the age of 13 OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Bandslam
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes
Length 111 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Will Burton (Gaelan Connell) doesn’t fit in at school where he is bullied and taunted so when his mom Karen (Lisa Kudrow) tells him they are moving to New Jersey and a fresh start at a new school Will couldn’t be more ecstatic.

Will writes on a daily basis to his rock hero David Bowie, who never replies to his letters, but when it comes to understanding rock music Will is a genius. At his new school Will is befriended by ex-cheerleader Charlotte Banks (Alyson Michalka), who puts Will’s genius to good use. Charlotte used to be a member of the popular local rock band Glory Dogs, whose lead singer Ben Wheatly (Scott Porter) was Charlotte’s boyfriend, but she has now formed her own band. Charlotte is so impressed with Will that she make him the band’s manager, hoping that he can raise the band to new heights so that they can compete in the Tri –State Bandslam competition.

Will also makes friends with an unusual girl called Sa5m (Vanessa Hudgens) - the “5” in her name is silent – and, assisted by Charlotte, this friendship blossoms into a romance.  Will throws himself into getting Charlotte’s band ready for competition but the road to Bandslam is not an easy one.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Bullying, alcoholism, drink driving

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

Bandslam contained occasional scenes depicting mild violence and bullying, and in several scenes we hear discussions concerning a death via drunk driving. Examples include:

  • In the film’s opening scenes, an older boy deliberately bumps into Will, knocking him to the ground. While Will is lying on the ground a water bomb is dropped out of a bus window, exploding on his head and he is taunted with the nickname “Dui” (driving under the influence), a reference to his father who killed a young boy while driving under the influence of alcohol.
  • A teenage boy in a controlled but angry manner bashes away at a car body with a sledge hammer in a school auto shop. We hear that the only two classes that the boy attends are auto shop and anger management.
  • In one scene Charlotte drives her car in a reckless manner with the tyres screeching.
  • A crowd of people on the dance floor of a night club jump and knock into each other. We see Will stage diving and crowd surfing.
  • Sa5m demeans Will in class by making him appear vain and shallow.      
  • Charlotte deliberately hurts Will by calling him “Dui”.
  • A girl slaps a sleeping man in the face to wake him up.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged under five, including the following:

  • We hear how Will’s father killed a boy will driving his car under the influence of alcohol and how a twelve year old Will went to the boy’s funeral and asked the boy’s parents for forgiveness.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by the story of Will’s father and its effect on Will’s life.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie: Apple I Pods, Apple laptop computers, Coca-Cola drink, beef jerky, pharmaceutical medications eg Tylenol, Fender guitars/basses/ amps, a range of digital cameras.   

Sexual references

There are occasional low-level sexual references in this movie, including:

  • The drummer of Will’s band is an older teenage boy, the boy tells Will that he “digs older chicks” and when the boy see a picture of Will’s mother on Will’s cell phone he says “Who’s the babe?”, Will tells the boy it is his sister.
  • In relation to Sa5m being attracted to Will, Charlotte tells Will, “She’s one step away from being Mrs. Wilbert and wearing slippers”.   
  • When Will’s mother tells Charlotte that she saw her kissing Will, Charlotte says that it was educational.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Cheerleaders wear tops that expose their midriffs and in a couple of scenes teenage girls wearing tops that reveal a degree of cleavage. In one scene we see Will’s mother wearing a top that reveals cleavage and when she suspects that may be attracting attention she attempts to cover her exposed cleavage.  
  • An older teenage boy kiss Will’s mother unannounced on the lips, she appears surprised and shocked.
  • In one scene Charlotte provides Will with some hands-on instruction on how to kiss a girl. We see Will caressing Charlotte’s hair and the side of her face and he kisses her tenderly on the lips. Will appears unsettled after the experience and falls out of the car when leaving. We also see Will’s mother watching the episode from the window. After Will leaves, Charlotte says “I’m so going to heaven”.
  • We see Will attempts to kiss Sa5m in an extremely awkward manner. He rips off her hat and heavily pats her hair in an attempt to caress her. Will rips a book out of Sa5m’s hands and then kisses her tenderly on the lips.   
  • Charlotte climbs through Will’s bedroom window and sits on his bed. Will is clothed and in the bed. After some conversation, Charlotte tickles Will and his mother walks in and demands to know what Charlotte is doing there.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • In one scene school is referred to as novocaine for the soul.
  • We hear that Will’s father was an alcoholic who was always drunk by lunch time and that he killed a boy while driving under the influence.

Coarse language

There is some occasional mild coarse language and putdowns in this movie. Examples include:

  • Idiot, moron, bloody, weirdo, crazy, “screw them over”.  

In a nutshell

Bandslam, a Disney release, is a teenage high school romance that is likely to appeal particularly to teenage girls but also entertain their parents.  The storyline, soundtrack and quality of the acting are good and the film’s lead characters are well developed.   

The main messages from this movie are:

  • Life’s trials make us stronger and brings out the best in us
  • Take chances in life and push your self by always doing the things that scare you.
  • Don’t let bullies get the better of you, “If you miss out on life they will win”.  

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include selflessness determination spontaneity and improvisation encouragement

  • Parents may also wish to discuss the real life consequences of bullying and of drink driving.

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