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SCHOOL OF ROCK, 2003
After being fired from his band and desperate to find money to pay his rent, Dewey Finn poses as a substitute teacher and, in the process, turns his class into a rock band to compete in a ‘battle of the bands’ competition.
Release Date: 3 October 2003
Richard Linklater is the proclaimed ‘King of American Indie film’ and, to his credit, has created some excellently expressive and visually engaging films (for example, ‘Waking Life’ (2001)). His films explore the deepest, darkest corners of the human psyche and they have become renowned world wide as critical triumphs and Linklater retains a reputation as a fine filmmaker in this particular manner. So who would have thought that director Richard Linklater would have turned out one of the best family films of the last decade?
The film opens with Dewey Finn (Jack Black) performing with his rock band in front of an underwhelmed audience. Finn’s mentality, musically, is stuck in the 1980’s hair-rock era as he demonstrates with excessive guitar solos (much to the annoyance of his fellow band mates) and crowd surfing (which, in the opening scene, fails with a hilarious consequence). The following morning, he is fired from his band and greeted with news that he is perilously overdue with his rent. Finn decides to pose as substitute teacher, under his room-mate’s name, (writer Mike White) and heads to school as the alias “Ned Schneebly”.
After a series of days involving little-to-no amount of teaching at the school, Finn discovers that the class he has been assigned to teach are also very talented at playing various instruments and instantly devises a plan to turn the entire class into a rock band - under the nose of the school principle Rosalie Mullins (played by Joan Cusack) – to perform in a ‘Battle of the Bands’ competition in order to win a cash prize. Finn’s previous band is taking part in the competition and Finn, who obviously has no moral-barometer, sees this as the perfect opportunity to seek revenge whilst earning the money he so desperately needs to pay his rent before he is thrown out of his apartment.
It makes perfect sense for the louder-than-life Jack Black to play the metal-loving Dewey Finn; it’s a role that fits Jack Black perfectly. In recent years, Jack Black may have become annoying and “too-Jack Black” so-to-speak (some complain that Black’s style of loud, spontaneous humour can be difficult to digest) but Jack Black’s overall performance in this film really complements the overall movie and he really has delivered an excellent and loveable display. Black’s enthusiasm of the musical ere/genre this film focuses on shines through in every single move he makes on screen. There are numerous shots that last minutes in length where Black grips ‘the moment’ and doesn’t let go of it and really delivers scenes of genuine hilarity. This is definitely Jack Black’s finest hour and it is an absolute joy to watch. Whilst it is without question Jack Black’s performance that steals the show, the film is littered with break through performances. The kids in the film are brilliant. Really. There is not one performance that strikes you as being inexperienced. Joey Gaydos Jr (who plays Zack, a guitar prodigy in Finn’s eyes) gives the best performance and this is a great, great breakthrough performance. The same goes for Kevin Alexander Clark (who plays drummer Fred). These performances are back up by charismatic performances by the more experienced actors in the film (Like Joan Cusack, who plays the knowingly uptight principle as well as Sarah Silverman, who plays the antagonistic girlfriend of Finn’s roommate).
There is quite a lot to take away from this film; the great performances, the comedy (did I mention that this film is genuinely very, very funny), the fantastic soundtrack, etc. This film is absolutely rich and offers so much to both children and adults (eugh, did I really just say that?). I hate to sound like a cliché, but it’s really true and I have never fully believed that saying until I first saw ‘School Of Rock’ back in 2003.
After looking at a back catalogue such as Linklater’s, it’s difficult to guess why he would pick a film such as ‘School Of Rock’ to direct but he has done an excellent job. After the success of this film, Linklater has seemingly turned his back away from the types of films that we normally associate with him prior to “School Of Rock” (which is somewhat of a double-edged sword, I suppose). Linklater’s skill as an experienced, quality filmmaker really does a fabulous job of bringing this perfect family comedy to life and, as I mentioned earlier, it’s one of the greatest family films of the past ten years.
SCHOOL OF ROCK