Monday, September 21, 2015

Movie Review: "School of Rock" (2003)

Image Source
Movie"School of Rock"
Director: Richard Linklater
Year: 2003
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 48 minutes

Dewey Finn (Jack Black) was just kicked out of his band and is past due on his rent. Desperate to make some money, Dewey, pretending to be his roommate Ned, takes a substitute teaching job at a high-class prep school, though he knows nothing about teaching. When he first arrives, he is nothing more than a glorified babysitter, but when he learns many of his students are musically inclined, he turns the kids into his new rock band and teaches them about rock and roll so he can use them to compete in the Battle of the Bands. 

The best way to describe "School of Rock" is cute and joyful. Perpetual man-child Jack Black plays Dewey Finn, a man who has shirked all of the responsibilities that come with being an adult in order to pursue his dream of being a rock star. He gets kicked out of his band, not because he can't play or sing, but because his over-the-top, obnoxious on stage behavior is far too distracting for the rest of the band. To top it off, his roommate Ned, played by the film's writer Michael White, is being pressured by his girlfriend, played by Sarah Silverman, to kick him out of their apartment because he hasn't paid his share of the rent. Desperate for money, he poses as his roommate, who is a substitute teacher, and takes a job at a prep school. This, of course, sets the stage for the underachieving but worldly slacker poised to teach a group of wealthy pre-teens who are being prepped for their eventual entry into elite colleges. Though Dewey has no real desire or even ability to teach these kids anything, especially since they are already smarter than he is when it comes to general education subjects, despite his best efforts, he does so anyway. One thing Dewey does know is rock and roll. When he learns that many of the kids in "his" class can play instruments and are actually quite good at their instrument of their choice, he jumps in head first into to teaching them about rock music, starting with how to play it, how to look the part, and of important figures from the history of the genre. He also teaches them how to imbibe the spirit of the rebellious rocker at the heart of each of his students. He turns his students into a band, but has some selfish motives and reasons for doing this. Dewey wants to use the kids to compete at a battle of the bands competition so he can not only win the prize money, but show up his old band as well. Of course, lessons are learned on both sides of the equation in an often heartwarming and touching manner. Though he takes the students away from their studies, Dewey is able to teach them some valuable life lessons about confidence and believing in yourself. In many ways, "School of Rock" is very formulaic, but regardless, it is wholly entertaining, really fun to watch, and has some great laugh out loud moments as he comes dangerously close to blowing his cover on more than one occasion.

Jack Black does what Jack Black does best, and that is playing a theatrical version of himself, the slacker rocker who shoves off authority and could care less about responsibilities so long as he's following his heart and what he loves to do. How much you like Black as an actor will impact how much you like the movie as a whole, and luckily, we really like Jack Black. It also helps a lot that Black, half of the rock duo Tenacious D, can really sing AND play his own instruments, too, giving him the look, the persona, and the attitude of a phony teacher who wants to educate in the lessons of rock n' roll. Joan Cusack is also excellent as Ms. Mullins, the uptight principle of the school who senses there's something not quite right with Dewey and wants to get to the bottom of it. She also has a rock side to her that comes out, coaxed by Dewey to benefit himself, of course. Being a rock music movie, there is, as anticipated, a big, kick ass concert scene at the end of the film where the band performs their original songs. This is a pretty great scene and boasts a catchy song, too. It's also awesome knowing the kids in Dewey's class are actually playing their own instruments and singing their own songs throughout the film.

The inspiration, the humor, the "unleash your inner rebellious rocker" attitude and the compelling story this movie has really makes it a joy to watch, even a decade plus later. Richard Linklater of recent "Boyhood" fame does an excellent job directing this movie and truly encapsulates the fun and the spirit of following your dreams, even when "the man" gets you down. This movie is not just for kids, adults with a heart will love it, too!

My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 92%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!
One year ago, we were watching: "20 Feet from Stardom"

No comments:

Post a Comment