The School of Rock (2003)

Starring: Jack Black, Joan Cusack, Mike White

Directed by: Richard Linklater

Rating: 1 2 3 4

Feeling down? Jaded? Fed up? Then you need to take a class at the School of Rock. This thoroughly entertaining, riotously funny film is guaranteed to put a smile on the face of the most miserable goth (especially the sort with a stack of Bon Jovi vinyl hidden in the back of their closets.)

Jack Black holds a class in the School of Rock. Lesson one: rolling your eyes in a manic way

Jack Black plays Dewey Finn, a thirtysomething rock geetarist who refuses to let got of his rock'n'roll dreams. We all know somebody like Dewey Finn. Some of us still are a bit like him (ahem): so called grown ups who can't let go of the rock'n'roll in our souls. Friends, this film is for us.

Kicked out of his own band and about to get kicked out of his flat if he doesn't come up with the rent, he takes a job at a stiflingly posh prep school as a supply teacher. The only problem is, he isn't a teacher at all, he's just pretending to be. Cue a series of slightly obvious teacher/pupil role reversal scenes as he prescribes enforced recess to a group of strait-laced, grade-hungry ten-year-olds who are more concerned with earning gold stars than goofing off.

The fun really kicks off, however, when Dewey realises that his class have the musical talent to take him where he wants to be: into the final of the Battle of the Bands competition. Again, a rock'n'roll film that ends with a Battle of the Bands contest is hardly breaking new ground (Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey, anyone?) but the lead up to the final is nevertheless monstrously good fun.

Lesson two: rocking out.

In order to prime his bunch of overachievers for stardom, Dewey must first induct them into the mysteries of rock: the history, the theory and, of course, the poses one must strike. Gradually, under his tuition, the kids learn all those things you can never pick up from books, namely, how to have fun, how to stand up for themselves and, of course, how to kick ass.

The part of Dewey Finn was created for Jack Black (who, as one half of Tenacious D, is no stranger to rock'n'roll) and he's clearly having the time of his life. One suspects that the child actors' experiences making the film can't have been a million miles away from the experiences of the pupils in the script as they are confronted by a demented portly chap stamping around their classroom wielding a flying V and posturing like a loon whilst belting out tracks that sound suspiciously as if they were written by Spinal Tap.

Lesson three: the Angus Young.

Appealing to adults and children alike, there is nothing remotely offensive in this movie and much that is side-splittingly funny. Black may hog the limelight, but Joan Cusack holds her own as neurotic headmistress Miss Mullins, a woman so tightly wound and repressed you just know there has to be a rock'n'roll soul lurking beneath. The kids, also, are great, with not a whiff of Annie-like nausea about them, thank God.

And, believe it or not, The School of Rock also has a valuable lesson to teach. rock'n'roll, Dewey tells us, is not about looking cool, scoring chicks or getting wasted, it's about music. (Are you listening, Speedway?) And of course in the end Dewey Finn is proved right: rock'n'roll dreams really do come true. And that, my friends, is a lesson we all need to learn.

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