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School of Rock

A movie directed by Richard Linklater

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Jack Black is THE MAN in School of Rock

  • Oct 4, 2003
  • by
Rating:
+3
Pros: Jack Black, Mike White, Joan Cusack, adorable children, music, hilarious!

Cons: plot is kinda weird, stereotyped kids

The Bottom Line: Jack Black is about to rock, and I salute him.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot.

The trailers for School of Rock made it look like a mildly amusing comedy. But when I found out that it was written by Mike White ( Chuck and Buck, The Good Girl), I couldn't wait to see it. Even though my expectations were high for this film, I was pleasantly surprised by how hilarious it was. The audience broke into applause at the end, and I got really thirsty from laughing so much.

Dewey Finn (Jack Black) is a loser. He plays in a local band and has dreams of rock and roll stardom. In the opening scene, Dewey's band is performing at a local club. He plays ridiculously long and outrageous guitar solos, rolling around on the stage, taking off his shirt, and diving into the audience. Unfortunately for Dewey, the mosh pit is empty, and he goes crashing down onto the concrete floor. This image is a perfect analogy for his life.

While Dewey is an unemployed slob, his roommate Ned Schneebly (Mike White) seems to have his life together. Sure, his girlfriend is demanding and overbearing, but she has a good job, and Ned is working as a substitute teacher as he works toward his honorable goal of becoming a full-fledged educator. Dewey owes Ned money for several months' rent and will be evicted by Ned and Patty (Sarah Silverman) if he doesn't pay up soon.

Dewey's plan of winning the local Battle of the Bands to score the money to pay Ned back takes a detour when he is fired from his band. One morning, a phone call arrives with a job offer for Ned. When Dewey realizes that he could make some money by substituting (or "temping," as he calls it), he pretends to be Ned and shows up at the school to start the "gig." As you may have guessed, hilarity ensues.

While normal ten-year-olds would be ecstatic to have a substitute teacher who let them have recess all the time and didn't expect them to do any work, these preppy children actually want to learn, especially the class know-it-all Summer (Miranda Cosgrove).

"Class, I'm hungover," Dewey says. "Does anyone know what that means?"

"You're drunk?" one kid replies.

"Nope. I was drunk yesterday."

Thus, the lessons in cultural literacy begin. Dewey teaches the children to appreciate rock music and how to stick it to "the man." Although Dewey cares about the children (he really is quite sweet with them), he also uses them to further his own rock dreams. Neglecting all other lessons, Dewey leads the class in a project: to form a group and win the Battle of the Bands.

The film asks us to suspend our disbelief that none of the children would mention this secret project to any of their parents or schoolmates and that they could play loud rock music in the classroom without being discovered. Yes, the film is incredibly unrealistic, but it's also amazingly fun.

Some people don't like Jack Black as he is a bit in-your-face and hammy, but he was wonderful in this role. Joan Cusack also shines as the uptight principal with a secret Stevie Nicks obsession. I thought more could have been done with this aspect of the plot. Mike White plays the same character he always does--a dorky guy-- only this one is less creepy than the ones he usually plays. According to a woman I met in the bathroom after the movie who went to Wesleyan with him, he's exactly like that in real life.

The children are adorable and all have unique personalities. I especially liked the shy, Aretha Franklin-esque back-up singer and Zack, the lead guitar player with the controlling father. The effeminate "band stylist" joke got old rather quickly, but the rest of the jokes felt fresh until the end of the film.

The soundtrack features some rock masterpieces like "Sunshine of Your Love" and "The Immigrant Song" (enhanced by Black's screaming) along with some surprisingly good original songs by Black and White. (aww...) Although a little on the screechy side, I think Jack Black actually has a great rock voice.

The School of Rock is an instant classic with many quotable lines. I forsee it being shown on Comedy Central's Saturday afternoon lineup along with Old School and PCU for years to come.


Recommended:
Yes

Video Occasion: Good for Groups
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older

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More School of Rock reviews
review by . May 08, 2009
Jack Black plays a rock musician that gets kicked out of his band prior to the big battle of the bands contest. Unable to hold a job, Jack is pressured to pay up or get out by his best friends wife (Jack rents a room from them). Other than his music, Jack has no ambition towards work until he happens to answer the phone from his friend. It seems a school needs a substitute teacher and will pay well for Jack friend's services. Jack pretends to be his friend and goes to the school posing as his friend. …
review by . March 06, 2005
"School of Rock" has been called formulaic, predictable, silly, etc. What it hasn't been called is boring or uninteresting. That's what makes this movie so great. Even though you pretty much know what is going to happen through all of the film, you enjoy every minute of it. From Black's idiotic Dewey character to his outrageous scheme to find lost rock glory, this entire film entertains. With a solid supporting cast and brilliant young actors and actresses, this film is worth the price.    Much …
review by . October 17, 2004
posted in Movie Hype
THE SCHOOL OF ROCK is about a man named Dewey Finn who just won't "grow up." Dewey has been doing odd jobs the last several years, living off his roommate and best friend, all so he can keep playing with his band and eventually get their big break. Then, one of the younger members of the band has a mutiny and kicks Dewey out. Dewey is despondent and after being seriously threatened to be thrown out of his apartment, he takes a job as a substitute music teacher at a high class private school pretending …
review by . September 14, 2004
Pros: Fun story, fun movie, real music     Cons: ~~~     The Bottom Line: A fun movie for kids and adults promoting music in schools (always a good thing)!
review by . April 09, 2004
posted in Movie Hype
Jack Black plays a rock musician that gets kicked out of his band prior to the big battle of the bands contest. Unable to hold a job, Jack is pressured to pay up or get out by his best friends wife (Jack rents a room from them). Other than his music, Jack has no ambition towards work until he happens to answer the phone from his friend. It seems a school needs a substitute teacher and will pay well for Jack friend's services. Jack pretends to be his friend and goes to the school posing as his friend.The …
review by . January 21, 2004
School of Rock will forever embody what Jack Black may have been, if not for a little band known as Tenacious D. In a world... Where Dewey needs a job...and no one will hire him because he's a rock-loving, stoner...until he impersonates his room-mate...to sub in a preppy, private school's music class...comes: "School of Rock!" Jack Black was made for this movie and visa-versa. He is given the space he needs to go rampant with his wild antics of rockacious fortitude; Like Robin Williams as an auction …
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Becky ()
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Turbo-charged comic Jack Black shakesSchool of Rockto its foundations, wailing with born-again metalhead passion as Dewey Finn, a guitarist who gets kicked out of a band because he grandstands too much--or, to put it another way, enjoys himself. Through an intercepted phone call, Finn gets a job as a substitute teacher for a fifth grade class at a private grade school. Neither students nor teacher quite know what to do with each other until Finn discovers that some of his young charges can play instruments; at once he starts turning them into a blistering rock & roll troupe that can crush his former band at an upcoming competition.School of Rockis silly and formulaic, but director Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused), writer Mike White (The Good Girl), and especially Black and co-star Joan Cusack invest the formulas with such glee that the movie is irresistibly fun.--Bret Fetzer
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