School of Rock

October 3, 2003

Director –
Richard LinklaterMajor Actors –
Jack Black …. Dewey Finn
Mike White …. Ned Schneebly
Joan Cusack …. Rosalie Mullins
Sarah Silverman …. Patty Di Marco
Joey Gaydos …. Zack
Miranda Cosgrove …. Summer Hathaway
Kevin Alexander Clark …. Freddy

IMDB Information

Analysis –
Acting :
It is the curious reality of movies with a lot of children in them that there doesn’t *seem* to be a lot of acting. But, just the same, there is, and these kids were pretty entertaining. Now, admittedly the children were somewhat cookie cutter characters. There was the smart asian keyboardist, the suck-up band manager girl, the self concious fat kid who finds her self-respect through singing…this film was not breaking new cinematic ground. At the same time, the stereotypes were comfortably worn by the actors and I wasn’t ever broken from the moment by considering what the kids might really be like. Jack Black and Joan Cusack, similarly, didn’t really seem to be acting so much as being themselves. Some people may see this as a lack of flexabilty on the part of the actors, but I simply see their continued success in the business as a sign that the characters they play are enjoyable enough to see in different films.

Writing :
The protagonist of this film was written specifically for Jack Black, so that fact that this movie is very Black-centric should not come as a surprise. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I find a lot of children’s movies talk down to their target audience. School of Rock is very respectful of the intelligence of the young people who are in the film, as well as the children who are watching it. While the situation the movie portrays is unbelievable, the humour of the film comes from the sharp dialogue and the seriousness with which the movie takes itself. The characters may be cracking jokes and behaving very out of the norm, but they’re not hamming it up for our benefit.

Linklater’s style, which mostly consists of a laid back approach and good framing, did this movie justice. He apparently was specifically contacted for this picture because of his previous work, and the fact that he managed to fit as much of Black as he did into the film while still making him coherent is a testament to his directing abilities.

Sets, Costumes, Special FX and Music:
There were sets, cosutmes, and some good lighting in the performance scenes. The only real aspect of the supporting technical arts to note was the music. Like High Fidelity, the other movie most folks associate with Jack Black, School of Rock has a killer soundtrack. The songs the band itself plays are also truly excellent. The kids were real musicians, and it shows in the music that the band plays.

Movie Overall :
At it’s heart, School of Rock is a cookie cutter movie for kids and families. The protagonist is a dead-beat, he interacts with a bunch of kids in a goofy and impossible way, they give his life meaning and he teaches them how to follow their dreams. This movie is categorically not cookie cutter. Because Black’s character was cut from whole cloth specifically for him, every move and sentence is extremely natural for him. The kids honestly seem excited to be playing their characters, and everyone in the movie expresses a love for music that you simply couldn’t find in your average person. It’s refreshing that the movie is so blatant in its love for the subject it discusses. School of Rock is uplifting without being schmatlzy and funny without making fun of anyone. It is what trash like “Home Alone” only wishes that it could be.

Personal Rating
This movie is worth seeing for full price.

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