School of Rock

Review Date:
Director: Richard Linklater
Writer: Mike White
Producers: Scott Rudin
Jack Black as Dewey
Joan Cusack as Principal Mullins
Mike White as Ned
A 30-something who still believes that he will make it as a “rock star” has no choice but to get a “real job” when his roommate’s girlfriend insists that he pay rent. Pretending to be his roommate, the self-proclaimed “loser” gets a gig as a substitute teacher at a prestigious elementary school, where he proceeds to teach his class all about the basics of rock and roll. Jack Black as…Jack Black ensues!
This film is the ultimate Jack Black project. If you don’t like the man or his antics, I’m not entirely sure if you will appreciate the film or its humor as much as I did. I actually like him quite a bit, love his over-caffeinated persona, his hilarious body contortions and his love of rock and roll, and all of those elements, along with a pretty cool soundtrack and a decent array of cute musician kids, made this film very enjoyable to sit through, despite its overdone concept (teacher does good) and its predictability factor. The film’s trailer actually doesn’t do it justice with Black cracking me up in nearly every other scene here. It’s obvious that director Linklater let the man loose on the set and Black takes full advantage of his child-like qualities to lace every sequence with his trademark energy and off-the-wall behavior. The film will be a hard one to market though, seeing as it’s “safe” in terms of its jokes, is set amongst 10-year olds and really doesn’t include any “adult humor” whatsoever, but also features Black, the man who every other college student with a bong and “D” t-shirt would follow to the ends of the earth. Hard to say who the target market will be (or if it will even find one), but I for one wanted nothing to do with this movie, but was delighted with what I saw, especially since I was going around calling director Linklater a “sell-out” for making this picture in the first place (I was wrong…it’s a fun movie and a good move to make it on his part-can’t survive on indie flicks alone, right?) I guess it’s the kind of movie that you could attend with your kid brother or sister, with an obvious, but poignant message about “being yourself”, thinking outside the box and not just following “the man” all the time, as well as a refreshing lack of gross or potty humor.

In fact, most of the hilarity comes from Black’s character and his capacity to engage the kids with his warped, yet strangely insightful, sense of rock and roll as the savior of all things. Screenwriter White actually lived next to Black for three years and wrote the part with his buddy in mind. Now while the film’s finale isn’t as ass-kicking as you would hope, the whole picture does move at a nice pace and slaps enough jokes in its tight little package to more than make up for its lack of originality. Joan Cusack was also a neat addition as the tightly-wound principal, and the kids, most of whom are actual musicians in real life, came across as authentic and surprisingly un-annoying. Of course, you can’t discuss a film entitled the SCHOOL OF ROCK without mentioning its soundtrack which peppers some sweet tunes throughout, as well as one very cool chart about the “history of rock”, with bands listed all the way through time, and a neat little montage featuring many of the greats. Stay tuned through the entire end credits sequence for some self-referential lyrics about the remaining members of the audience too. Funny stuff. In the end, I wouldn’t say that there’s much about this film that will blow people’s minds away, other than the fantastic performance by Jack Black, but the story is pleasant enough to keep you interested throughout, with the endearing kids, the emphasis on rock ‘n roll and the lack of overtly sexual or disgusting repartee making sure that it remains enjoyable for one and all. In my opinion, Black is worth the price of admission alone…and then some.

(c) 2021 Berge Garabedian