Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"


Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.


Watch This Review

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Movie Review

Will Burton can't catch a break. The nerdy, fatherless teen is down on school, harassed by bullies and forced to bear a painful nickname (left unexplained until late in the film). His comfort food? Rock music and its rich history. Punk. Ska. Progressive. Alt rock. Will knows the sonic lineage of U2 and The Killers better than he knows his own family tree. And the only thing stronger than his ear for a shrill chord or perfectly chunky guitar riff is his adoration of rocker David Bowie, to whom he journals his angst in letters that get no reply.

Then a sudden job change moves Will and his loving mom from Ohio to New Jersey. And the prospect of a fresh start invigorates him like a classic Ziggy Stardust solo.

Once in the land of Springsteen, Will still feels like an outsider, but manages to connect with a brooding girl named Sa5m ("The 5 is silent," she tells him), who becomes his partner for a class project. He's also befriended by Charlotte, an ex-cheerleader whose ailing dad inspired her to dump the whole "queen bee" bit—an elitist lifestyle that included singing with popular local band Glory Dogs and dating its narcissistic frontman, Ben.

Now Charlotte has her own garage band, and believes that Will's keen ear can help them improve enough to compete against Glory Dogs in a regional battle of the bands. How big is Bandslam? According to Sa5m, "Texas high school football big." After all, the winner gets a record deal.


Positive Elements

The prevailing theme is that, like a gale-force wind impacting a glider, a difficult past can either knock us out of the sky or—if we position ourselves just right—help us soar to new heights. Will, Sa5m and Charlotte are all broken to some degree. From mistakes. From a crushing disappointment. In one case, haunted by the sins of a parent. But at key moments, each of those teens manages to rise above fear and pain by unselfishly choosing to stare down personal demons for the benefit of others. The "happy ending" isn't happy because everyone gets what they want in fairy tale fashion, but because they've grown as individuals and united as a community.

Will takes his role as band manager seriously. He pulls together peers who couldn't be more different, yet gets them to work together for the good of a group that expands to include a horn section, cellist and classical pianist. He encourages musical self-expression, not for its own sake but as a means of serving the creative objectives of the whole.

Being forced to improvise just moments before taking the stage brings out the best in Will's band, especially Sa5m, who really comes out of her shell. Will is kind to beleaguered peers. And he volunteers to work with little children (as does Charlotte).

After hurting others' feelings, teens go out of their way to apologize, sometimes in elaborate, creative ways. Will's mother is his biggest fan, encouraging him with comments such as, "You are not the problem. You are terrific." Charlotte thanks Will for his decency and for making her a better person. Played over the end credits, "Where Are You Now" thanks supporters and naysayers alike for turning the singer into the man he has become.

Spiritual Content

A girl's skewed theology finds her bargaining with "God, the universe, anyone who'd listen." Worried that a careless comment could jinx her, she shouts, "Take it back! I don't like putting something like that to the universe." After doing a kind deed, she says to herself excitedly, "I am so going to heaven," falsely suggesting that salvation comes from doing good. An isolated music lyric seems to convey sympathy for the devil. (The context is unclear.) Will butters up a musician by telling him, "Inside, you're this golden god."

Sexual Content

Charlotte climbs through Will's bedroom window to talk with him, only to have Will's mom walk in and find her tickling him on his bed. (Mom deems their behavior inappropriate and breaks things up.) Elsewhere, Charlotte instructs Will on how to kiss a girl, letting him practice on her. Will and Sa5m share tender kisses. An anonymous couple is seen kissing passionately. While not explicitly sexual, Charlotte belts out the Cheap Trick hit "I Want You to Want Me."

Will lies to recruit a young drummer drawn to a photo of his mother. He tells the guy that she's his sister, and Mom reluctantly plays along at one point by lowering her neckline a bit. Sufficiently fooled, the drummer plants a celebratory kiss on her.

Violent Content

Bullying involves Will being shoved and having a drink poured on his head.

Crude or Profane Language

Some name-calling and the use of such coarse expressions as "sucks," "screw them over," "rip me a new one" and the British profanity "bloody." There are four or five exclamatory uses of God's name.

Drug and Alcohol Content

The teens visit a club to check out a rival band, but are not shown drinking. A somber recollection conveys the dangers of drinking and driving.

Other Negative Elements

Will and Sa5m sneak into a locked building. Sa5m fails to qualify this advice to Will: "Always do the thing that scares you." Charlotte refuses to use her turn signals when driving.

Most of the music featured is easy on the ears, but the bands esteemed by Will and others include The Killers, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Patti Smith, The Sex Pistols, Velvet Underground and David Bowie. Similarly, Sa5m notes that her favorite movie of all time is the violent horror flick Evil Dead 2.


If the boisterous bunch of teens who sat around me in the theater is any indication, Bandslam could be the sleeper hit of the summer. Playful music, accompanied by unexpected and satisfying plot turns are a few of the film's plusses.

Here's another: Coming-of-age stories about rock-loving adolescents—from Footloose to Almost Famous—usually highlight rock 'n' roll's rebellious roots. Not this one. Aside from their already mentioned lack of discernment, these protagonists are decent, mature kids packing moral compasses.

And restraint is just part of the picture. Bandslam scores big points for making big points about forgiveness, cooperation, healthy diversity and refusing to be defined by our scars.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles



Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!