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School Of Rock
cast: Jack Black, Joan Cusack, Adam Pascal, Lucas Papaelias, Chris Stack, and Sarak Silverman

director: Richard Linklater

105 minutes (PG) 2003 widescreen ratio 1.85:1
Paramount DVD Region 2 retail
[released 12 July]

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by John Percival
Dewy Finn (Jack Black) is old enough to know better. He lives for rock music. He is a wannabe rock star, his band has sold out and dropped him, and his best friend, Ned, has quit the rock 'n' roll lifestyle to be a substitute teacher. With the Battle of the Bands competition looming and Dewy band-less, things do not look good. When Dewy takes a call for his friend Ned about a substitute teaching post at a posh private school, he can only see a way to make some money by impersonating Ned. However once he meets the children he devises a new plan to tutor them in the art of rock and mould them into his new band.
   Dewy is a child of Led Zeppelin and AC/DC, also he is a slob in thirties. While many people will revel in the great music and hilarious comedy, many others will see Jack Black as an overacting, weird looking hobbit. He truly is odd but he does come across as someone who truly believes in the power of rock music beyond all else. To the extent that he will threaten his pupils' education in pursuit of his goal. He lies and manipulates the kids, his friends and the school principal for the final payoff of rock stardom. Maybe that is a cynical view of what is basically an enjoyable film. Dewey's is the hero of the piece and his actions although hilariously questionable are honest and innocent. With the great classic rock music and Jack Black's unstoppable child-like energy, School Of Rock manages to stay above being just a Sister Act clone.
   While Dewy is focused in moulding the kids he is challenging established education and society. Whilst it has been a long road, Dewy has never sold out on his dream and never got a proper job similarly he does actually teach the children important lessons in creativity over the indoctrination of classical education. Plus he takes a subject considered trivial by most and teaches it to a new audience all the time demonstrating the strong history of rock and how accessible it can be to everyone. Jack Black does have a long association with rock music, most notably his band Tenacious D, is extremely popular but anyone expecting the usual x-rated antics of that band will be disappointed here, remember this is a family movie.
   In a world where there is a constantly influx of music films based more around the pop or rap end of the market, films centring on rock music have generally been of a good standard such as This Is Spinal Tap or more recently Rock Star. School Of Rock can be counted among those, with the great humour and classic rock music it is a film that will be enjoyed by a very wide audience.
   If a disc containing one great film was not enough, then there is a whole range of extra material to keep that rock feeling going. There are commentaries by Jack Black, director Richard Linklater and the kids from the school. Lessons Learned in the School Of Rock is rock history piece. Then Jack Black Pitches To Led Zeppelin, where Jack begs the rock gods to let them use their music in the film. There is also a kids' diary and a manic MTV Diary Of Jack Black. The School Of Rock music video, plus trailers and website archives.

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