" Would you please stop treating me like a victim "
— Ashley Judd, Kiss the Girls

MRQE Top Critic

The Work of Director Spike Jonze

The Work of Director Spike Jonze demystifies him. He's not a freak or a mad genius. —Marty Mapes (DVD review...)

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The School of Rock script slavishly follows every band-movie cliché, and its attempts at humor are often strained to the breaking point. But after about 25 minutes, Jack Black gets to play some music and the movie finally clicks. It’s remains a formula-driven movie, but it becomes irresistably fun.

Jack Black ain't your daddy's Mr. Chips
Jack Black ain’t your daddy’s Mr. Chips

Dewey (Black) is a rock loser. His band, which sucks, kicks him out. His roommate (screenwriter Mike White) is about to do the same, when inspiration strikes. Dewey impersonates his roommate, a substitute teacher, and accepts a job at a private school. His plan is to sit on his ass for five days and earn a few hundred dollars. But when his students insist on learning something, Dewey teaches them the only thing he knows — rock music. The kids are actually pretty good, so Dewey decides to put together a real band from the kids in the class. Those without musical aptitude become groupies, managers, and security.

Movie clichés loom over The School of Rock like the sword of Damocles. Dewey will surely be found out. He’ll inevitably be forced to stop teaching the kids, by which time they will have formed a real teacher-student bond. Lessons will be learned, minds will be changed, and everything will work out in the end.

Nevertheless, The School of Rock is as good as its buzz indicates, in spite of its mediocre script (written especially for Black by White, an “old pal” according to Newsweek). It’s the kind of movie I might see again with someone whose laugh I love to hear.