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This new documentary from Chris Rock about the way African-American women think about what makes “good hair” looks terrific.

This week, there are new releases in both theaters and on DVD pairing “High School Musical” stars with alumnae from “Friends.” It’s a little disconcerting to see our “Friends” playing parents of teenagers, however. Lisa Kudrow is the mother of the main character who likes Vanessa Hudgens in “Bandslam” and Matthew Perry plays the father of two high school students who is magically transformed into his 17-year-old self, played by Zac Efron. It’s great to see both Kudrow and Perry on screen and their impeccable timing and ability to make an instant connection to the audience is evident in both films. And it is nice to see them passing the baton to such worthy young performers.

You know the old saying “No matter where I serve my guests, they seem to like my kitchen best?” Well, that’s what I think of when I watch Irene and her new cooking show, Irene Cooking With the Stars. She is an award-winning actress and comedian who has cooked for much of Hollywood and now they will be joining her on her online show. Her warm and winning personality will make you feel like you’re sitting in her kitchen and can almost smell the food. A sneak peek from the first webisode, featuring Oscar-winner Jamie Foxx, is available now.

IRENE COOKING WITH THE STARS SNEAK PEEK

Follow Irene on MySpace and visit her new interactive website for recipes, blog posts, and information and on Twitter at Irenecooking to learn about fun, healthy, and affordable cooking. She even features “Top Ramen Fridays” to help families save money.

A little edgier than the “High School Musical” series and a little smarter than the usual tween fare, “Bandslam” is a refreshing late-summer treat for tweens, teens, and their families from the always-welcome Walden Media, a top provider of quality family entertainment.

Will Burton (Gaelan Connell), an Ohio music-loving loner who knows his Thin Lizzie from his Velvet Underground and has mental conversations with David Bowie, is relieved and delighted when his single mother (Lisa Kudrow) tells him that they are moving to New Jersey. He is often picked on, with no friends, and he looks forward to starting over in a new school.

Though he fears it will be just like Ohio (“Different kids, same me”), the new school is different. A music group competition called Bandlam is “Texas high school football big.” A confident and popular senior named Charlotte (“Aly & AJ’s” Aly Michalka) invites him to help her take care of the day care kids, and they become friends. Once a part of the school’s champion band Glory Dogs, Charlotte and some other musicians are forming a new group. Before he knows it, Will is their manager, naming them for a line from “Waiting for Godot” — “I Can’t Go On, I’ll Go On.” Will is in “uncharted territory,” making friends, separating from his mother, and even developing feelings of more than friendship for the winsome Sa5m (“The 5 is silent”) (HSM’s Vanessa Hudgens).

There are heartaches, misunderstandings, and setbacks (this is high school, after all), but there is music and there is a public apology (this is a romance, after all), and triumph (it is a movie for kids after all).

Hudgens, unfortunately, is saddled with a character who speaks in monotones. It would be nice to see her in a role that gives her more of a chance to show her spirit. Newcomer Connell is able, especially in his scenes with Kudrow, who makes the most of her underwritten mom role. Michalka has the most challenging role and handles it very capably. The characters talk rock but sing pop. Only Michalka has a rocker’s attitude. But these characters have more depth and believability than most movies in this genre. Director Todd Graff, who made “Camp,” again shows his sympathetic understanding for kids who want to perform. And, most important, this movie has a strong foundation in its understanding of classic rock that does as much as any of the writing, directing, or performers to keep us rooting for Will’s group to go on.

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