School of Rock (2003)

17 Apr

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Smith’s Verdict: ****

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

“School of Rock” is a fun family movie that actually rocks! This is a terrific entertainment for people of all ages—but why is the movie rated PG-13? The MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) gave the movie that rating for “rude humor and drug references.” This is harmless enough for kids and adults all around, and there probably isn’t a kid in the world who wouldn’t be entertained and delighted by this entertaining and delightful rock-fest. I mean it—it’s that good.

The key to the film’s success is in the film’s star Jack Black, who knows just what to do to get some big laughs. He’d already made his mark with memorable parts in “High Fidelity” and “Shallow Hal.” He is so hilarious with his sweaty charisma and loud but talented comic timing. Here, he delivers an exuberant and gleeful performance that helps make “School of Rock” wildly entertaining.

Black plays Dewey Finn, an energetic, 30-year-old slacker with a passion for rock n roll. Dewey is kicked out of his rock band for being too showy. He shares an apartment with a nerdy substitute teacher (Mike White, who also wrote the film), who has the strange name “Schneebly.” Dewey needs to come up with some money to pay his rent so when a prestigious prep school calls for his roommate to be a sub for a few weeks, Dewey goes to the school and masquerades as a teacher for a fifth grade class that is rewarded for following the rules. Dewey can’t believe how stiff these kids are.

When he hears them practice in band class, he realizes that they can really play. So he comes with a half-baked idea—turn the kids into a rock band and enter them in a “Battle of the Bands” contest to win the prize. Dewey turns the school days into lessons of rock music and culture and they practice music. The kids have fun with their Peter Pan teacher as they “create rock fusion.”

The kids transform from ten-year-old robots to ten-year-old rockers—Zack (Joey Gaydos, Jr.) plays the electric guitar, Freddy (Kevin Clark) bangs it out on the drums, and preppie Summer (Miranda Cosgrove) is assigned as band manager.

The whole movie, from start to finish, is a lot of fun. I can’t think of another comic actor to carry this movie better than Jack Black. He has this sweaty but charismatic personality that makes us laugh but also makes us like and root for him. I liked that the movie didn’t go for the basic stereotype—even the strict principal of the school, played by Joan Cusack, likes to party. I like how Dewey takes her out for a drink (he has to have a relationship somewhere in this movie) and she does a Stevie Nicks impersonation. The kids are all good comic actors—they’re not condescended upon, which is a good thing. Writer Mike White is suitably wimpy as Dewey’s roommate, and Sarah Silverman is funny as Mike White’s girlfriend who knows a slobbish loser when she sees one. But overall, Jack Black is this movie.

Also, this movie takes music seriously. We truly believe that Dewey knows a lot about rock music and truly the best scenes in the movie are the ones in which Dewey teaches these kids how to rock. They talk about music and it seems very real. These kids are played by actual musicians so they know how to play already. But they’re also good actors in which they act like this is the first time they picked up an electric guitar, keyboard, or bass. I also should point out that they really create some memorable tunes in this movie. I liked the songs they performed, even the bad one Dewey writes midway through the film. The best song comes in a heartwarming ending in which the School of Rock performs at the Battle of the Bands competition.

“School of Rock” is just a great entertainment for people of all ages. It’s a showcase of fun led by the lovable Jack Black who brings us in on all the music and all the fun. His Dewey Finn is an original character and Black makes it his own. I love “School of Rock” because of the performances, the music, and the clever script. It just rocks!

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One Response to “School of Rock (2003)”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. My Next Top 150 Favorite Movies | Smith's Verdict - June 28, 2018

    […] Here’s another film I grew up with. There’s nothing particularly profound about this movie. Jack Black’s lazy rocker character doesn’t learn anything, there are a lot of traditional tropes you could see in a similar prep-school film like “Dead Poets Society,” too many scenes of conflict/confrontation are resolved easily, and for a Richard Linklater film, I’m not even sure I learned anything from what the characters say. And yet…it rocks. This was the film that introduced me to Jack Black’s charisma, and I’ve been a fan of his ever since. Jack Black is this movie; he is what makes this movie a lot of fun to watch. You can tell he has this burning desire to create music and would sell his soul for rock and roll, and his energy practically bursts through the screen. He’s great, the kids are good comic actors, there are a lot of funny scenes I like to watch on repeat (like the scene where he auditions the kids that would be his lead band members), and if Linklater had to make a mainstream comedy, I’m glad it was this one. Review: https://smithsverdict.com/2013/04/17/school-of-rock-2003/ […]

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