School of Rock (2003)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Musical Comedy  |   Release Date - Oct 3, 2003 (USA - Unknown), Oct 3, 2003 (USA)  |   Run Time - 108 min.  |   Countries - Germany , United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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School of Rock is a hilarious combination of several standard-formula plot elements that wouldn't have added up to much were it not for the uniquely quirky performance of Jack Black, the endearing children in his "rock" class, the direction of Richard Linklater, and the well-written script by Mike White. That such tired plot lines as a teacher inspiring his students through an "experimental" teaching style (learning his own valuable lessons along the way, of course) and a band preparing for an inevitable Battle of the Bands finale actually come across as refreshing and fun is a testament to the quality of the film's execution. The children are genuine and likable and Jack Black has a natural rapport with them -- who ever thought that Black would prove such an inspirational and understanding mentor? Yes, the story is preposterous, but the message of bringing out the best in kids through positive reinforcement -- and the "power of rock" -- is real and heartfelt. Black's comedic antics are hilarious -- at once reined in by Linklater and let free by the essential spotlight that the film offers him. The School of Rock is Black's first moment to shine and truly take center stage in a film, and he does it with ease. The witty script by Mike White is great at relating the joys and importance of rock music and at avoiding stereotypes beyond most characters' first introductions (though the Liza Minnelli-loving effeminate student [Brian Falduto] and the evil-girlfriend [Sarah Silverman] are noticably one-dimentional in comparison the the others). In particular, Joan Cusack's role as the strict and uptight principal is refreshing, in that it does not resort to the clich├ęd evil disciplinarian gig throughout. Her character is humanized and, almost miraculously, is saved from being forced into an incredulous romantic plot line with the lead. Also noteworthy is the fact that the children -- who, in addition to acting ability, were cast based on their musical talents and skills -- are actually playing their respective instruments throughout the film. The School of Rock is an enjoyable movie that should have mass appeal, even beyond the hardcore Jack Black fans or rock aficionados.