School Of Rock

on October 03, 2003 by Christine James
So you want to rock 'n' roll all night and party every day, but you're still in grade school? Not a problem when your teacher is maniacal musician/comedian Jack Black. Black plays mooching layabout Dewey Finn, a rock god wannabe with more enthusiasm than talent. Having just been ousted from his band and forced to pay rent for the first time in his life, he scams his way into a substitute teaching gig at an exclusive private school. Clueless as to what to do with a brood of 10-year-olds, he proclaims entire days to be recess while he recovers from hangovers. But when he overhears his charges taking their music lessons, a chord is struck, literally and figuratively, and Dewey recruits these prodigies-in-the-making into his new group, in fervent pursuit of his dream to win a Battle of the Bands.

You'd have to be the comedic equivalent of tone deaf not to get caught up in the irresistible, goes-to-11 fun as the newly impassioned Dewey earnestly teaches the pupils how to play Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water" and the Doors' "Touch Me" on their classical instruments, and designates the not-so-gifted kids roadies, security guards, stylists and even groupies. With a focus never before known to him, Dewey assembles video presentations and comprises elaborate flow charts chronicling the history of rock. His enthusiastic wards help him maintain his facade as a credentialed instructor, setting up quick-change roll-away equipment stands and elaborate surveillance systems, and going along with his fake lessons when the tightly-wound headmistress (Joan Cusack) pops in (fortunately not noticing such nonsense equations on the board like # * 32 and ? x !). The efficiency of their makeshift operation and the genuine camaraderie that develops is giddily gratifying. At first one might worry about the children missing out on vital, actual education, but those concerns are allayed as the students tap into their own individual but heretofore underexplored talents and gain direly needed confidence and direction. There's nothing like a cleverly written bildungsromanic underdog makeover movie with the mother of all music-deity-laden soundtracks to "Rock" your world. Starring Jack Black, Joan Cusack, Mike White and Sarah Silverman. Directed by Richard Linklater. Written by Mike White. Produced by Scott Rudin. A Paramount release. Comedy. Rated PG-13 for some rude humor and drug references. Running time: 109 min

Tags: Starring Jack Black, Joan Cusack, Mike White, Sarah Silverman, Directed by Richard Linklater, Written by Mike White, Produced by Scott Rudin, Paramount, Comedy

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