School of Rock — he said, she said — movie review — screener!
Posted on September 30, 2003 by Chris & Kris
Kris says LISTEN UP!:
Okay, about a year ago, we’re in Chris’s car and the CD whirls and repeats. Its Tenacious D and I don’t really mind the first couple of times; its wackiness accompanies our joyrides as we’re eyeballing for pranks. I decide to humor Chris since he has just rediscovered a bunch of his old music/musak. After a couple more joyrides though, I’m yearning for my palpably esoteric Cocteau Twins or the goofy Wolfgang Press, man. Or even the Pixies; that would be nice. The point is, I could only take so much of Jack Black, no matter how talented and funny he is.
So, of course I was wary of this movie.. I mean, its nearly two hours of the guy doing what he does best: strumming and ad-libbing and dancing topless (well, maybe not so much of the latter). Another point against it was that I’m not entirely partial to the “Rock-n-Roll band overcomes adversity” genre (besides Bill + Ted’s Excellent Adventures, of course). As a mantra, I kept reminding myself that Mike White (the Good Girl, Orange County, Chuck and Buck Suck and Fuck) wrote it, Richard Linklater (Waking Life, Before Sunrise, Slacker) directed it, and the endearingly eclectic Joan Cusack would make an appearance. That being said, I couldn’t help but brace myself for disappointment.
Once again, I was wrong. :)
Yet another wham-bam surprise (as if they are trying to make up for the dreary Summertime line-up), School of Rock well, rocks! Sure its corny at times, emotionally manipulative, predictable and unabashedly stereotypical, but it’s a feel good comedy, doi. I had predicted Mike White’s further progression into lucid conventionalism and that he would get all “Spielberg” someday, but his scripts are always humorous and always entertaining. Also, like any masterful storyteller (Spielberg included), morals run a deep strain but do not interfere nor pester its audience. This movie reminds us that settling for the norm or catering to other people’s expectations doesn’t make one famous, and it certainly doesn’t make one happy.
I don’t think that I will cease to make fun of my buds who groove to “dinosaur bands,” but with the resurgence of retro (i.e.: White Stripes, the Darkness), I must concur. Everyone possesses an ability (innate or acquired) to recognise a classic, whether it is our taste or not. For those of you who dig vintage rock, you’ll be treated to Led Zeppelin, the Doors, the Ramones, the Who, Stevie Nicks, and Jack Black’s cover of AC/DC’s “It’s A Long Way To the Top.”
So go ahead and tap your feet, hum In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, cheer them on, and “STICK IT TO THE MAN!”
Chris and his Socks say:
I was a little wary of this film as well. I still remember the stink that was Kindergarten Cop, but with writer Mike White, director Richard Linklater, and comedian Jack Black how could you go wrong? Well, to put it mildly, School of Rock rocked my socks. This was the first truly feel good movie of the year. Jack Black’s funny without going completely overboard, the children actors are all wonderful and not the slightest bit annoying, and Mike White’s story is bitingly funny and truly heartwarming. It’s a dictionary definition crowd pleaser.
The storyline is fairly standard stuff. Jack Black plays Dewey Finn, an aspiring rocker who rocks a little too hard for his bandmates. They actually kick him out of his own band. Being short on rent due to a complete lack of a normal job, Finn decides to impersonate his roommate, Ned Schneebly (Mike White), a substitute teacher, in order to get the necessary cash so he doesn’t add getting kicked out of his own apartment to his recent list of failures. Finn goes to school and becomes Mr S. He’s not much of a teacher when he starts. He comes to school with a hangover, asks to leave early, and has the kids take recess all day. But once he discovers their musical talents he opts to turn them into the rockinest band the world’s ever seen. At first it’s all about him. He has the kids sing a song he wrote all about him and his new rocktastic band. But as “Mr S.” teaches the kids, they in turn teach him responsibility, and the focus gradually shifts to be less about him and more about the kids and the joy of the music.
Oh, and you do have a bad guy in the film in the form of Schneebly’s (pasty Mike White’s) girlfriend Patty (Sarah Silverman) who you can’t help but completely despise.
Sure, this type of story has been done before, but I don’t care. The kids are all wonderfully talented and actually play their own instruments. For example, the lead guitar player of the band is actually an 11 year old guitar prodigy (also of note is the fact Mike White and Jack Black were roommates when White wrote the script.) But it’s got more than just good acting and kickass music. I love the themes of standing up for yourself, fulfilling your dreams, sticking it to the man, learning to love yourself for who you are, and listening to your heart. It’s a damn inspirational film. I laughed, I cheered, I stomped my feet. Even though the audience for the screening was not at the theatre’s full capacity, the cheers that erupted during the closing battle of the bands sounded like a crowded house for an A List concert. I can’t praise it enough. I wholeheartedly love this film.
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