Browse all reviews by letter     A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 - 9

USA 2003
Directed by
Richard Linklater
108 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Sharon Hurst
4 stars

School Of Rock

Synopsis: Band leader Dewey Finn (Jack Black) worships rock and roll but is sacked by his own band due to his self-indulgent antics. Desperate to pay his rent money he pretends to be his flatmate Ned Schneebly, an emergency teacher at the local Horace Green Elementary School. With zero teaching experience, Dewey takes over a class of fifth graders for a few weeks and decides to teach them the power and skills of high-voltage rock and roll.

School of Rock is a perfect showcase for the talents of Jack Black, who in real life is already a proven musician and great performer. If you caught him in High Fidelity then you already know the invigorating power of his comic antics and here he plays a similar character but with even more eyebrow waggling, and in-your-face attitude. This slacker (impostor) teacher with a hangover, who tells the kids to “just take a daylong recess” is a terrific foil for the go-getter aspiring private school students who are shocked by his lackadaisical attitude and over-the-top behaviour. Black is truly an inspired comic, with a high energy, near-manic style that could even put Jim Carrey in the shade.

When Dewey discovers his students have a talent for music his obsession and passion takes over and he begins to train them in his own way: school becomes a day long (but secret) practise session for the Battle of the Bands, with each student being allotted a vital role ranging from musicians, to costume designer, lighting expert, security and band manager. It is here that the casting of the kids is a great success. Several thousand children who could actually play instruments and sing were auditioned and those who made it were mostly non-professional actors who make their film debuts here. One can only marvel at the genuine talent displayed by such young musicians, not to mention their acting prowess.

The real Ned Schneebly is played by Mike White who also wrote the script. Having been a neighbour of Jack Black for three years, he tailored this script especially for Black’s idiosyncratic personality. Another great foil to Black within the plot is the character of Rosalie Mullins (Joan Cusack, John’s sister), the prim and stiffly uptight principal of the school. She is known only to loosen up when drunk, and there are some very funny interactions between her and Dewey in which he gradually causes her edges to fray.

The template for this sort of film is familiar, but fortunately School of Rock avoids too much of a Hollywood triumph-of-the-underdog ending. For teachers, this film could even have a few messages – those involving ways to inspire students and how to give them confidence and self-esteem; a nice bonus to this terrific heart-warming comedy. In fact for anyone who is either a teacher or musician, not to mention those just wanting a smile on their face for a film’s duration, this is a bit of light relief not to miss.




Want something different?

random vintage best worst