Friday, 19 July 2019

School Of Rock (2003)

If there was ever an award for the Jack Blackiest movie to feature Jack Black in a main role then it would surely go to School Of Rock. You get the rock music, obviously, and the general worshipping at the altar of rock. You get odd improvisational vocal riffs and ridiculous rock posturing. You get a lead character who seems to not be doing much with his life, and also proves himself to be far from the brightest bulb at times. And there's a message about being true to yourself, and not necessarily caring about what others may think as you find your inner cool.

Black plays Dewey Finn, a band member who finds himself with no band. He also has no job. And no money. He owes rent, which is becoming a problem for his friend/flatmate, Ned (played by Mike White, who also wrote the script), mainly because Ned is being told to assert himself by his girlfriend, Patty (Sarah Silverman). When Dewey takes a message by phone for a temp teaching job position for Ned, he decides to take on the role and earn some money. He figures it will be easy, the kids will enjoy not having to actually learn, and nobody will be hurt. And then he finds out that some of the young pupils are pretty good with musical instruments. So he has an idea to create another band.

Directed by Richard Linklater, School Of Rock is an easy crowdpleaser, as long as you don't mind Jack Black (and I think it's fair to say that this was released during the time when he was at the peak of his popularity, before people started to tire of his schtick). Although it seems unlike anything Linklater would want to helm, the fact that every scene feels infused with the sweat of rock legends starts to make you realise that this is a natural pairing.

Black is as you have seen him so many other times, sometimes being lazy and unmotivated and sometimes being a whirling ball of energy as he gets fired up by the power of rock. This remains the best role that he's had for the rock-worshipping side of his personality, and he is consistently excellent. White and Silverman are the negging motivators, with Silverman taking on the thankless role of the main complainer, and both of them are good in their scenes. Joan Cusack excels as the head of the school, a woman who worries so much about the reputation of the school, and the care of the pupils, that she has developed a reputation as someone who never has any fun. But get a Stevie Nicks tune playing and she shows a different side.

Then we have the kids. They may be all painted in rather broad strokes, but they're not usually the butt of the jokes, not once Black settles more into his role and starts to see more in them than they may see themselves. The scene-stealer is Miranda Cosgrove as Summer Hathaway, a girl who prides herself on being a top student, but everyone does well. You get Robert Tsai (Lawrence, keyboard), Joey Gaydos Jr. (Zack, guitar), Kevin Clark (Freddy, drums), Rebecca Brown (Katie, bass), Brian Falduto (Billy, costumes), Zachary Infante (Gordon, lighting), and Maryam Hassan, Caitlin Hale, and Aleisha Allen as singers. Every single one of them gets at least one moment in the spotlight, either through their musical talent or an amusing line of dialogue.

The soundtrack is made up of the obvious greats, making this a treat for the ears, and that script is a perfect example of how to throw enough fun characters and situations onscreen in a way that allows viewers to suspend disbelief as things move towards a completely predictable, and satisfying, grand finale.  Silly and ridiculously implausible as it is, it's also a pretty perfect choice for whenever you are after a movie to please a group with a wide age range.


You can buy the movie here.
American readers can buy it here.

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