Film Reviews

THE SCHOOL OF ROCK

By • Oct 3rd, 2003 •

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I was in Brazil at a private Santo Daime ceremony held for me in the mountain village of Maua outside Rio de Janeiro during the media brouhaha over GIGLI. So as soon as I returned, after suffering through a gobble-gobble screening of GIGLI, I caught a dark work print of THE SCHOOL OF ROCK.

I want to start the buzz early: I loved every minute of THE SCHOOL OF ROCK.

I hated Richard Linklater’s WAKING LIFE. I thought it was pompous and self-reverential. Here, he captures the frenzied soul of Jack Black and ignites the fuse of a full-fledged movie star! It’s a Jack Black Love Fest! Black chews up every scene. He’s supposed to! The movie is all about him!

Fat, and way too old to be a rock star, Dewey Finn (Black) gets kicked out of his own rock band. He has no money. The rent is due. He decides to impersonate his bullied roommate Ned (SCHOOL OF ROCK’s screenwriter Mike White) as a 4th grade substitute teacher in an ultra-private school run by an uptight principal, Miss Mullins (Joan Cusack). Ned is henpecked by his girlfriend Patty (Sarah Silverman). First day, Finn just wants to sleep off his hangover and demands food from the well-bred and well-behaved students. These kids are shocked! They want to learn! How will they be graded?

All Finn cares about is The Music so he decides to secretly form a band using the students and entering a local “Battle of the Bands” contest. He, of course, is star vocalist. But to make this scheme work he has to involve every student. Brilliantly, he sizes up each student and gives the class factotum, Summer Hathaway (Miranda Cosgrove), the important job of Band Manager. Zach (Joey Gaydos) a guitar prodigy is prodded into playing lead guitar, Freddy (Kevin Clark) is tasked the drums, Katie (Rebecca Brown) is given a bass, and Lawrence (Robert Tsai) plays piano. Tomika, Aliesha and Marta (Maryam Hassan, Aleisha Allen and Caitlin Hale) sing back-up. Finn makes the rest of the class one homogenizing unit by designating students as roadies, security detail, makeup and costume. The most important members of the band are the three girls chosen to NAME the band!

For homework Finn gives each student a CD of a famous rock band with instructions to study certain tracks.

If you lust after Jack Black (and we all do), this is the movie to see. He’s unfettered by annoying, grown-up co-stars with career agendas! Though, to be honest, the casting director should be singled out for finding Cosgrove and the rest of the kids.

Jack, you have made me so crazy I’m going to allow you to break all of Victoria’s Hidden Rules of Filmmaking: There is no need for you to bother with movie stars (I saw SHALLOW HAL) or scripts with lines and a plot. Eat what you want, mess your hair, and yes, don’t shave.

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