School of Rock (PG-13)
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This came out in 2003, but I didn't see it until 2015. I want you to stop and think about the fact that the amount of time between this movie coming out and my seeing it is greater than the amount of time between most of the actors being born and their making the movie. Scary, no? Anyway, it's something I guess I always wanted to see, so it's a shame it took me so long to get around to seeing it. But... it's not the oldest movie I've always wanted to see that I haven't seen yet, so whatevs. It's also a shame I didn't get to see it in a theater, because... well, because I just think the closing credits would have been more fun in a theater. But they were still fun on DVD.
Anyway, there's this guy named Dewey Finn (Jack Black), who plays guitar in a band called No Vacancy. You can tell right away that he really feels the music, but you can also tell that his stage performance in the small clubs they play is way over the top. (It might make sense if he were in a band that play arenas, but...) Anyway, he lives in an apartment with his friend Ned Schneebly, who used to be in another band with him, but has given up that dream. Ned's girlfriend, Patty (Sarah Silverman), wants Ned to kick Dewey out of their apartment, because he owes Ned lots of money and can't pay his share of the rent. So they give him a week to get the money. Meanwhile, Dewey's band mates kick him out of the band. Then Dewey takes a call meant for Ned, who is a substitute teacher. The call is from Rosalie "Roz" Mullins (Joan Cusack), the principal of an elementary prep school called Horace Green. She wants Ned to fill in for one of the teachers there, and Dewey pretends to be Ned, in order to make money to pay his rent.
At first he plans to just do nothing all day, and let the kids have recess the whole time. But then on the second day, he hears the kids playing classical music in their music class, and he gets an idea. He decides to teach them to play rock music, so they can be his band in an upcoming battle of the bands (though he tells them this is actually a school project). He makes a kid named Zack lead guitarist, and Freddy the drummer, and Katie the bass guitarist, Lawrence the keyboardist, and girls named Marta and Alicia backup singers. He assigns all the other kids various jobs like roadies, special effects, security, costume designer, and groupies. (That last one really seemed inappropriate, but of course he didn't want them to be real groupies. Mainly he wanted them to come up with a name for the band, though most of the names they come up with, he hates.) The teacher's pet (or "class factotum"), Summer (Miranda Cosgrove), looks up "groupies" on the internet and complains to him about it, so he makes her the band manager, instead. Also, one of the roadies, Tomika, eventually tells him she wants to sing. She's shy, but she has a great voice, so she joins the backup singers. Of course, Dewey himself will also play guitar and be lead vocalist. Also, Zack writes a song, which the band will end up playing at the battle of the bands. And the groupies finally come up with a name Dewey likes: School of Rock. However, Dewey still needs to get permission from Roz to take the kids on a "field trip," which is against school policy (at least for substitute teachers).
Anyway, there's really not much else to say. The movie's got a kind of quirky, free-spirited, rock & roll vibe, but beneath that it seemed to me like a pretty standard comedy. It's ridiculous that Dewey got away with his deception as long as he did, but it was also inevitable that he'd eventually be discovered. (The discovery is thanks to Patty, who I guess we're supposed to see as a shrew, or whatever, but in fact she's really the voice of reason. It was easy for me to take her side early in the movie, but a lot harder in the end, in spite of the fact that what she did would absolutely be the right thing, in real life. But seriously, why do characters like that never understand that we're not watching real life? We're watching a movie, dammit! Why can't they just let us watch our damn movie?! ...Except of course that movies need conflict, so whatevs.) Um... anyway, I watched a music video on the DVD before I watched the movie itself. So when we first hear Zack's song in the movie, the lyrics were familiar, but I'd forgotten where I heard them, and for a few seconds I thought he'd stolen them from Dewey. But I gotta say, when School of Rock later performed the song in the battle of the bands, it was way more awesome than it was in the music video. And... well, Roz learns to loosen up (though I totally understood her stress, considering all the parents she had to deal with). And the parents learn to loosen up and appreciate their kids, too. Even Summer loosened up. It's all totally standard stuff, but it works fairly well, here. And there's actually a lot less conflict than there would be in most movies like this, so the majority of the time, the movie just gets to be a lot of fun. I still probably liked it less than a lot of fans (and even critics), but... that doesn't mean I didn't love it. Because I did.
Oh, and btw, Zimbio? If you could stop posting ads on my facebook feed about "What the kids from School of Rock look like all grown up," that'd be great.
In 2016, there's a TV series on Nickelodeon that's based on the movie, but since I don't currently get Nick, I'm afraid I can't check it out. Which doesn't greatly trouble me, because I suspect it'll be way watered down for a young audience.