MRR Movie Review: School of Rock

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A wannabe rock star in need of cash poses as a substitute teacher at a prep school, and tries to turn his class into a rock band. Starring Jack Black, Joan Cusack and Sarah Silverman.
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Movie Review: "School of Rock"

-- Rating: PG-13 (rude humor and drug references)
Length: 108 minutes
Release Date: October 3, 2003
Directed by: Richard Linklater
Genre: Comedy/Music

"School of Rock" is the story of Dewey Finn (played by Jack Black), an aspiring musician who's in a lot of debt and can't seem to do anything right. Finn has recently been kicked out of his old band, is severely in debt, and is living with an old friend, who happens to be a substitute teacher. Jack Black's quirky persona and over-the-top acting fit perfectly in this role. From the very beginning, you can't help but smile at how funny he is, while still feeling sorry for the guy. He has the perfect off-the-wall style that this role requires.

Through a series of mishaps, Dewey Finn ends up taking his roommate's substitute position at a local school. When everything in his life was going wrong, this was the one thing that went right. At the school, he meets Zach, a ten-year-old guitar genius whose father won't let him play rock and roll. Zach is played by Joey Gaydos, Jr., who really came out of nowhere in this film. He actually was a fantastic guitar player outside of the film and has released his own record. As an unknown name to most of the acting world, he did a great job of playing the kid who was breaking out of his shell. He nailed the sense of hesitant rebelliousness that his character needed in order to be believable.

Things get even more interesting when Finn learns about a Battle of the Bands with a $10,000 prize. However, in order to win, he needs to find a band. That is where his class comes in. Comprised of a group of ragtag musicians, the students in his substitute class team up to create not just a band, but a whole production team. Miranda Cosgrove acts as one of the students in the class, and it is fun to see her in one of her early roles. Most of the actors playing the students actually are phenomenal musicians. While this could have been detrimental to the acting side of the movie, it seemed to work the other way. They didn't pretend to be a group of aspiring musicians, because they really were lovable musicians who were young and a little bit awkward. They fit the roles exactly how they should have, and they made the concert and practice scenes much more fun to watch because of their true musicianship.

However, their plan to win the Battle of the Bands does not go unnoticed. The principal, Rosalie Mullins (played by Joan Cusack), has a hint that there is something fishy going on with the substitute, but she can never quite put her finger on it. Cusack does a wonderful job of being both a slightly crazed oddball and a stern principal, something that doesn't sound like it is even possible. She manages to pull it off and keeps you on the edge of your seat, wondering whether or not she really is out there enough to guess that there is a full-blown rock band hiding right under her nose.

On their journey to win the Battle of the Bands, the group members have to learn what it means to be a team. You really fall in love with the kids as you see them struggle to find out who they really are and how they fit in with the rest of the group. Through all of their fighting and arguing, they begin to come together as they realize how important this Battle of the Bands really is.

There are numerous scenes that will get you laughing as you watch the kids hide all their instruments just before the principal walks in, and Jack Black does a great job of making everything even funnier than the hilarious situation itself. As a musician himself, Jack Black really holds this movie together. There are some hilarious musical performances, and it is quite surprising to hear how well Black can actually sing.

Though there are plenty of laughs to be had throughout the entire film, it is not void of any good messages. There are characters who take a stand for the person they want to be, not the person they are forced into being. There is a great scene of forgiveness and acceptance. Most importantly, the film shows what happens when you commit to your dream and pursue it with all the passion you have.

Rating 4 out of 5