School of Rock review by The Grim Ringler

In my mind, director Richard Linklater has made three movies that were prototype films for the era they were speaking of Slacker was a perfect slice of early-nineties American counter-culture. Dazed and Confused is the perfect vision of seventies high school life. And with School of Rock Linklater, with the help of Jack Black and writer/actor Mike White have made the most perfect eighties movie ever. Now, the first thing you ask is, umm, it takes place in the eighties? Nope. It takes place today, but the thing is, at its heart this is an eighties movie. This is the movie you always loved from the eighties where its a kooky main character that has insurmountable odds and all the rest of it and in your mind you say none of this would ever happen and no, it wouldnt, but dammit, in an eighties movie, who cares? The same is true here. So what, who cares that a lot of the story is implausible? Who cares that logic isnt even given a thought here? So what?What matters here is that this is a movie you will love, with characters you cannot help but care about, and a story that completely engulfs you. These are all archetypes, the kooky loser that you love, the mean girlfriend to the once cool friend, the snooty principle that once was cool, and the geeky uptight kids that are dying to let loose. Alone, it all becomes a bad eighties movie, but with the brilliant acting of Black and the tremendous performances of the kids, coupled with some great writing, this becomes an absolute joy of a film which you cannot help but love.

Dewey is a loser. He has just been kicked out of a band he helped form just before the battle of the bands, is behind on rent, and is on the verge of being kicked out of the apartment he shares with his once cool friend. Desperate for money and for a job Dewey takes a call meant for his sub-teacher roomie and takes the temporary gig as a teacher at a well regarded private school in the hopes that he can last long enough to make money to pay back rent to his roomie. Completely disinterested in teaching the precocious children, Dewey, as his friend, decides the children should have recess all day while he is here. While he makes it through the first day, he finds out on his second day there that the children have a music class they must take and that they are all pretty darned good musicians. Suddenly inspired to make music again, Dewey hauls his music equipment into class and within a few minutes has the bare makings of a new band, with him as the singer. That leaves half the class without work though and in order for his scheme to work, he decides that what they are doing is a new secret project called Rock Band and everyone will be involved. Dewey endeavors to make everyone a part of the band, be it as a roadie, security, backup singer, groupie, or as a manager, as one girl is set to be. As the band practices more and more Dewey realizes that he really as a good band on his hands and that they have a chance of winning the upcoming battle of the bands, if only he can pull of his ruse long enough. In his way though is a parent-teacher conference in which, under the scrutiny of the parents, Deweys plans begin to unravel, especially now that his roomies girlfriend had learned what he is up to and has informed the police. And with everything Dewey and the class has worked for about to come apart, it comes down to the passion of the children to keep Deweys dream alive, and to stick it to the man in order to make it to the battle of the bands.

Through and through this is a silly movie. As I said earlier, this is not a movie that takes place in the real world because if it were the real world Dewey would have been found out and in jail in the first half an hour of the film. But instead of trying to make this realistic, writer White has created a film that is more concerned with the characters and their stories than any sense of reality. But who the hell cares? This is movie is one of the most fun things I have seen all year. You come in, sit down, and just let it take you where it will. It epitomizes the eighties ideal of movies in that, logic-schmogic, what matters is that you had a good time. Knowing that the movie really is made or destroyed by how Jack Black comes off, the filmmakers trusted their actor and they were wise to do it. Blacks infectious sense of fun in the film is what makes everything work. Without his love affair for music and growing affection for the kids the film is soul-less. Sure, hes a funny guy and his antics are a kick but its Blacks ability to actually act that makes the film something special. Sure he can mug, but the guy can also act, he can also play scenes in which he isnt meant to be a buffoon, which makes his comedy all the better. And the guy is good enough that he can do physical and verbal comedy with an air of ease that most modern day comic actors wish they could pull off. And while Black is the heart and soul of the film, if it were not for the brilliant script and song writing of Mike White itd be another goofy Bad News Bears rip offs about the loser kids trying to be cool. Instead we have a film about a man that is a better teacher just because he cares about the kids and teaches them not only how to rock, but also how to stand up for themselves and what they love and not to give up on those things. White, wise writer that he is, doesnt even give Black all the best lines, making sure that the kids are as strong of characters as Dewey is as they are the heart of the film if Black is its spine. Never quite sure what to make of their new teacher but reveling in the new freedom they have with him and the new worlds he is opening up to them. And he is actually an adult that wants their input and wants them to be a part of this band. And bless director Linklater for just letting things play out. He never gets cutesy with the camera, or tries to force anything, he knows that Jack Black has the ability to pull the film off and he lets him have at it. And as I have said before, sometimes it means as much for a director to stay out of the way as it does for one to make their presence known. Much like another fave of mine Almost Famous, this is a love letter for music and the people that have a great passion for it. This is a love letter for everyone that ever wanted to be a rock star and was in a garage band that broke up because they were just too damned old to keep up the charade that theyd make it some day. Who cares, thats the message of the movie. Who cares if you arent a rock star? Who cares if you arent the greatest to ever do what you do, as long as you have a passion for it and love what you are doing, then what does it matter if you are the best, worst, or just another average joe because its what we do with the moments we are handed that matter most. And what this does, for about an hour and a half, is rock your freakin socks off.


9 out of 10 Jackasses
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