School of Rock makes the grade

BLACK IS BACK, corrupting the innocent with his traditional mix of moxy, and mayhem, and musical elitism.
Carrie Cleaveland

BLACK IS BACK, corrupting the innocent with his traditional mix of moxy, and mayhem, and musical elitism.

School of Rock is an enormously entertaining film starting Jack Black as Dewey Finn, a washed-up rocker fired from his own band. He takes a job as a substitute teacher at a prestigious elementary school and ends up using his students to start a rock band in hopes of winning a Battle of the Bands competition, fame, and a hefty sum of money.

Although only six children actually comprise the band, Finn involves the entire class in the “project,” designating important band jobs such as special effects, security detail, roadies, groupies, band manager, and even band stylist.

The children are the real stars of the movie. Kudos to whoever had the idea to opt for real kids who can actually play over actors. Not only do they blow audiences away with their incredible talent for such a young age, but they have more charm and appeal than most child stars we are used to seeing.

The drummer, Kevin Clark, is particularly delightful and I sincerely hope he finds himself in other movies.

Aside from the children, the supporting cast is insignificant and relatively boring. The subplot involving Jack Black’s best friend and roommate only gives a reason for Black to find himself in the unlikely-and inappropriate-situation of educating children.

Remove them entirely. It affords more camera time for the kids, who are more entertaining than even Black himself.

Even Joan Cusak’s role as the school’s principal has little purpose, which is disappointing, considering what a cinematic gem she is. While entertaining as usual, it’s a shame her talents are wasted on a role that has even less bearing on the film than the other insignificant supporting cast, comprising much less enjoyable actors.

Jack Black has played this character before in virtually every movie: the loud, obnoxious, often hung over guy who, by the end of the film, usually proves that despite it all he still has a heart of gold.

In School of Rock he tends to start the nice-guy act earlier than in previous films, but fails to offer anything new or different to a character he has played all too often.

As a Jack Black fan, I personally hope that someone will take a chance and put him in a movie that allows him to do something different.

No one thought Jim Carrey capable of anything other than talking from his butt until The Truman Show. Give Jack Black a chance; let’s see what he can do.

Nevertheless, Black’s hijinx are hysterical, and the kids are even more endearing, outshining him even during his best moments. B+