School of Rock

Bomb Rating: 

This film suffers from the same problems common to other Richard Linklater films: It's slow and plodding and seems to go absolutely nowhere.

The main purpose of "School of Rock" is to provide Jack Black an opportunity to ham it up. It seems unlikely that Black's lines were actually written by screenwriter Mike White, and more likely that they were just made up on the spot by Renaissance Man Black himself. Why? Because lines that unfunny, once put to paper, would be immediately crossed out, torn up, burned, and the ashes encased in cement and hurled into the sea. Black tries to compensate with his usual shtick: flailing, goofy faces and his odd interactions with the kids. The result is about as funny as watching laundry tumble.

This film is slightly less annoying than "The Fighting Temptations" only because it deigns to show some actual cause and effect between the band practicing, growing as a unit, and performing at the "Battle of the Bands" competition. Naturally, however, the members' stage performance far exceeds anything we hear them do in class.

Loser Dewey Finn (Black) secretly takes a substitute teaching job at a prestigious elementary school in place of his friend, Ned Schneebly (Mike White). Dewey can't teach and doesn't know anything. All he cares about is playing guitar and singing in his band, but since he's just been kicked out, he doesn't even have that going for him. Thus, he decides to teach the kids about rock. When he discovers that a number of them have musical talent, he forms a band and enters them in a "Battle of the Bands" competition.

The film features children, but the audience is treated like a group of children, too. Dewey and the kids practice rock n' roll in their classroom, but nobody ever notices. Apparently, Principal Rosalie Mullins (Joan Cusack) is the only one ever walking the halls, and the kids have set up some computer monitoring to keep track of her.

For a film targeted at children, "School of Rock" displays an alarming misogyny. Ned's girlfriend, Patty (Sarah Silverman), gets the plot rolling by demanding that the lazy Dewey pay his rent money or get out of their apartment. Ned is portrayed as spineless because he'd rather confront Dewey and get laid than not confront Dewey and not get laid. In the end, Patty is the chump for not recognizing the potential of Dewey. She also calls the cops on him when she realizes he's been committing fraud. How dare she?

If this movie were an actual musician, it would be Michael Bolton.

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