School of Rock

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Cast:
Jack Black as Dewey Finn
Joan Cusack as Principal Mullins
Mike White as Ned Schneebly
Sarah Silverman as Patty
Joey Gaydos as Zack
Maryam Hassan as Tomika
Kevin Alexander Clark as Freddy Jones
Rebecca Brown as Katie
Robert Tsai as Lawrence
Caitlin Hale as Marta
Aleisha Allen as Alicia
Miranda Cosgrove as Summer Hathaway
Brian Falduto as Billy
Zachary Infante as Gordon
James Hosey as Marco
Angelo Massagli as Frankie
Cole Hawkins as Leonard
Veronica Afflerbach as Eleni
Jordan-Claire Green as Michelle

Summary:
School Of Rock is a fun film. With a good performance by Jack Black and a great soundtrack, it’s worth checking out. However, it’s not necessarily for kiddies as the commercials may suggest.

Story:
Dewey Finn has a dream to create a classic rock band. While he only cares about the music, he’d really like to win a local radio contest called The Battle Of The Bands. Unfortunately, everything is against him. His current band just kicked him out, he has no social life, no responsibility, no job, and his roommate’s girlfriend wants him kicked out of their apartment. In short, things look bleak thanks to “The Man”.

Desperate for money, he poses as his roommate in order to get a job as a substitute teacher at an exclusive private elementary school. Dewey fits right in as Principal Mullins chalks up his strange ways to eccentric genius. Now faced with a class full of brilliant children, Dewey must find a way to pass the next three weeks. When he discovers that the students have musical talents, he gets a bright idea. He’ll secretly turn the kids into a rock band to win the Battle Of The Bands.

Dewey assigns the kids to positions in the band according to their talents. He appoints some kids as roadies, security, stylists, and groupies. He begins to brainwash them by teaching them music appreciation with Jimi Hendrix, Led Zepplin, Pink Floyd, and more. The kids end up being a quite talented band, but what will happen when the school and parents find out what they’ve been doing instead of math, science, and English?

School Of Rock is rated PG-13 for some rude humor and drug references.

What Worked:
Your enjoyment of School Of Rock will heavily depend on your feelings towards Jack Black. If you like him, then you’ll love this film. He’s on the screen almost the entire time and he’s in full spaz mode constantly. There were many times I thought the guy was going to spontaneously combust. If Jack Black’s style of humor isn’t your cup of tea, then you’ll want to play hooky when it comes to School Of Rock. Fortunately, I was in the mood for his psychotic behavior so I got a kick out of the movie.

School Of Rock was a fun film for me. I’m a fan of classic rock, so seeing Jack Black instruct young children in the ways of Hendrix was a treat. Rock fans will enjoy hearing Black teach kids the tunes to songs from AC/DC, Zepplin, and others. With that type of music as the central theme of the movie, the soundtrack ended up being really good as well. It’s filled with all sorts of good tunes from the days of yore. The whole classic rock music scene is also ripe for all sorts of jokes that Black takes full advantage of. Groupies, punks, glam rockers, and others are all fair game.

But besides classic rock, the new music the kids make is good as well. The creators made the right choice in casting children who could really play instruments. When you see one kid drumming or another playing a guitar or a girl playing base, there’s no doubt in your mind that they could do it. That makes the songs they play during the Battle Of The Bands all the more impressive. For 10 year olds they put on quite a performance.

Somehow Jack Black ends up being a lovable loser. At first there’s not much to like about his character. He’s lazy, a freeloader, rude, stupid, and a liar. However, somehow Black is able to still make us like him despite it all. What helps is his interaction with the kids. He takes each one of them and builds them up so that they are more confident than they were before. That goes a long way towards getting audiences to look past his shortcomings. Black’s interaction with the children seems natural and helps make the movie work. He’s also great with Joan Cusack as the highly-strung principal.

With a great soundtrack, a funny plot, and a good cast, School Of Rock is a really fun movie.

What Didn’t Work:
My main gripe about this movie is the PG-13 rating. I think the creators of School Of Rock could have had a really great family movie if they had been willing to cut a few jokes involving kids cussing. (Like we haven’t seen this before?) Without that this would have been a tame but funny comedy that you wouldn’t mind taking your kids to. I think the PG-13 rating is appropriate (because you don’t want younger kids necessarily imitating the kids in the movie), but I think it’s ultimately going to limit the audience for this film.

School Of Rock also takes a while to get rolling. It starts out with a strong opening of Dewey enthusiastically playing with his band for an uninterested crowd. It then slows down dramatically and doesn’t pick up again until the kids start rocking. But if you stick with it through the big finish you’ll be glad you did.

The Bottom Line:
Overall School Of Rock is a fun movie that’s worth checking out. However, it isn’t necessarily a family movie you want to drag the kiddies to.

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