It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
Will Burton lives within himself. A high school kid, new in town, he’s too much of a geek to have any hope of dating the girls he notices in school. He lives in a room he has made a shrine to David Bowie (with whom he has a daily one-way e-mail correspondence) and wishes he had been born soon enough to frequent CBGB, a legendary New York club that was one of the launching pads for punk rock.
Not that you’d think he was a punk if you saw him. He’s just an ordinary kid, always joined with his iPod. until one day his life changes when his musical expertise is recruited by the popular Charlotte (Aly Michalka, of Aly & AJ). She has a three-piece group that will compete in an upcoming Tri-State Battle of the Bands, and Will thinks (correctly) it doesn’t have a chance.
He in turn spots a loner girl named Sa5m (“the 5 is silent”). She’s played by Vanessa Hudgens (“High School Musical”) as withdrawn, usually in black, keeping secrets. One of them is that she has musical talent. Will adds her to the band, and other side musicians including a very quiet Asian girl named Kim Lee (Lisa Chung), who is a classical pianist but plays a great pop keyboard even if it looks like it might kill her to smile.
Charlotte’s band is called the Glory Dogs. Will renames it “I Can’t Go On I’ll Go On,” which inevitably reflects a situation that comes up in the film. He throws himself into reshaping the group’s music, to the concern of his hovering single mom (Lisa Kudrow) — who came to hear the band for herself and is converted.