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Review by Cassam Looch

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

THE monumental success of the High School Musical franchise was bound to lead to similarly-themed movies, and this one also boasts one of the stars in the form of Vanessa Hudgens.

However, the kids in this film aren’t influenced by Grease, but instead are more likely to be listening to Ziggy Stardust and Oasis.

Will (Gaelen Connell) is a know-it-all music aficionado who is also a socially awkward teenager whose over-protective mother (Lisa Kudrow) relocates him to another school because of bullying. Once there, however, he finds his new school is obsessed with the state Battle of the Bands competition, which is the perfect reason for him to come out of his shell.

He subsequently forms an unlikely friendship with blonde beauty Charlotte (Alison Michalka), the lead singer of a three-piece garage band and equally beautiful social misfit Sa5m (the ‘S’ is silent). Using his musical knowledge, he assumes the mantle of manager and guides the band against the school favourites, Glory Dogs led by Charlotte’s ex-boyfriend (Scott Porter).

Connell is a very solid actor, and makes the character of Will a likeable enough sort of guy. It’s hard, though, to differentiate him from the numerous identikit ‘awkward but cool’ geeks that Michael Cera would normally play in a film.

As usual for this type of role in modern films, finding hot women is not a problem, and he’s spoilt for choice but while the film does make his big decision interesting it struggles to be believable.

Hudgens and Michalka, as the two ladies in his life, do a great job, however, and Hudgens in particular shows that she is destined for bigger things… she’s probably one of the most promising young actresses in Hollywood at the moment and thankfully enhances those credentials by allowing Michalka to do most of the singing.

The plot might start out along the lines of a ‘High School musi-cool’ but the characters elevate it to an altogether more acceptable level. Some of the uber-smart references might go over the heads of the youngest viewers, but that just means there’s something for everyone.

Certificate: PG
Running time: 111mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: December 7, 2009