"School of Rock"
Directed by Richard Linklater.
Written by Mike White.
Starring Jack Black, Joan Cusack, Mike White and Sarah Silverman.
Release Year: 2003
Review Date: 10/21/03
I didn't see a single trailer for the new
Jack Black comedy "School of Rock"…but that didn't stop me from
having a whoop-ass time at the movies.
This one just pimp-slapped me out of the
blue, it was such a surprise. Black stars as Dewey, guitar playing
loser and organizer of a down-and-out rock band that seems to be
going nowhere. When Dewey's roommate Ned (film co-writer Mike
White) demands that Dewey finally pay up on the $2200 in rent that
he is in debt on, Dewey has to find a way to make some cash or risk
getting booted from his apartment. Dewey gets his shot when he
assumes the alias of Ned--who "temps" as a substitute teacher--and
shows up at a prestigious private school to teach a class of fourth
graders in subjects that Dewey has no interest in…like, oh, math,
history, science, or anything else kids really might NEED to learn.
Instead, he tries to turn the kids into a band in three weeks to
prep them for a rock band competition for $20,000 in prize money.
Like my friend Brian "Schmoove" Prenoveau
said after we came out of the theater, even though "School of Rock"
might have a very straightforward, predictable plotline, the
execution is near-perfect and Black is perfect for the role of
Dewey. The combination of these two elements makes for a film that
is flat-out hilarious for so much of the 108-minute running time
that I left with laugh marks on my cheeks following the matinee.
Black does his best Chris Farley imitation throughout the picture,
and one cannot imagine the amount of energy he expends doing his
scenes because he tosses his body all over the frame every time he
appears in it. Director Richard Linklater ("Dazed and Confused")
throws us at least three scenes where he uses the long master cut of
a shot featuring Black, so there he is for three or four minutes
yapping away on something, whether it's singing a song, or leading
the kids through a lesson, or waxing poetic on the storied history
of rock & roll.
But, Black doesn't do all of the heavy
lifting--the kids that populate Dewey's classroom are fantastic.
There are so many great kid moments in "School of Rock" that I'm not
going to tell you about a single one of them, so you can go out and
see this flick and experience the glory for yourself. Schmoove and
I were dying during many of the segments, though, especially ones
featuring the kids as they figure out their roles within the band,
and Dewey coming up with nicknames for all of the kids in the
class. So good.
Supporting help by the adults in "School of
Rock" is probably the only semi-weak spot of the whole shebang; Joan
Cusack, White and Sarah Silverman don't add much to the end product,
but that was okay since they take up so little of the film's running
time. I don't even really listen to much classic rock & roll but
that didn't hurt the experience; I would imagine bits like Dewey
mapping out a family tree on the history of rock would appeal
greatly to those that have some knowledge of punk and prog rock, if
you like that sort of thing.
All in all, good times, and a real surprise
for me because I generally don't love Black in his movie parts.
But, this one is a keeper and in a crowded audience, I'll bet that
folks will be laughing their mutha-grabbin' asses off.
Rating: Opening Weekend
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard