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Still shot from the movie: The School of Rock.

The School of Rock

Dewey Finn (Jack Black) greatest aspiration is to win the Battle of the Bands. But all looks hopeless until he stumbles upon a chance to impersonate his roommate as a substitute music teacher and prepare the students to enter a Battle of the Bands contest.

Overall Grade: B
Violence: A
Sexual Content: B-
Language: B
Drugs/Alcohol: B-
Release Date: 03 Oct 2003
Run Time: 109
MPAA Rating: PG-13

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In-Depth Review

Following your dream isn't a bad thing. Unless of course, you resort to being a "liar, liar, pants on fire" to make it happen.

For Dewey Finn (Jack Black), life's greatest aspiration is to win the Battle of the Bands with a face-melting rendition of good old, hard-core rock 'n' roll. Unfortunately, with only weeks remaining until the competition, the chubby lead singer has just been voted out of his band. He's also about to be evicted from his couch cushions on the living room floor by his roommates who think it's time for the freeloader to grow up, get a real job and pay his own way in life.

So while his co-dwellers hurry off to their jobs, Patty (Sarah Silverman) at city hall and Ned (Mike White) as a substitute teacher, Dewey hangs out at home in his housecoat and socks carefully considering his future options.

When he picks up a desperate call from the prestigious Horace Green Prep School, the answer to his money problems seems obvious. Looking for Ned to fill in for an injured teacher, Principal Mullins (Joan Cusack) needs a sub right now. After disguising his voice and cleaning up for the gig, Dewey is more than willing to assume his friend's identity to make some quick cash.

Showing up at the stately private school, Dewey doesn't initially appreciate that these uniformed, polite and amazingly normal-looking kids are pretty talented in their own right. Talented enough to possibly win the next Battle of the Bands.

But after listening to them play during their orchestra class, Dewey is suddenly inspired to teach. Shelving any hint of the regular curriculum, canceling recess and swearing the kids to secrecy, he introduces them to their new project -- the making of a rock band.

In the carefully controlled reality of a movie script, Dewey and his students are able to pick their way through rock history, tune up on their music appreciation and bang out more than a few numbers without ever being caught. No parent calls to question the sudden dearth of regular homework and the penalty for lying to school officials doesn't even result in a trip to the principal's office. A chorus of mild profanities and the suggestion of drug use are also notable in this movie more suitable for teens or older.

The School of Rock uses a cast of gifted young musicians and actors, many of whom are making their film debut. Relying on the real abilities of these kids to carry the story, the film has student and teacher characters that are more believable than is often found in school-based stories.

While Dewey's type of fraud won't come close to earning an excuse slip, his relaxed attitude toward rules, whether for good or bad, allows these rigidly monitored fifth graders the opportunity to explore outside the confines of their carefully controlled world and to challenge the insecurities that even moneyed kids can't avoid.

Discussion Ideas: Talk About the Movie...

Many of the young musicians in the film were found through open auditions. They were then trained in rock and roll for 10 weeks. In the film, it took Dewey only 3 weeks to get them ready to compete. How is time often manipulated in film? What affect does that have on the sense of reality in a story?

How realistic is the reaction of the parents in the school? What would your feelings be if you discovered something like this was happening in your child’s classroom?

Video alternatives

Dewey Finn isn’t the only one who fakes his credentials. In Sister Act 2, a group of nuns hire a new music teacher to help them save their school from being closed. Mr. Holland’s Opus tells the story of an aspiring composer who puts his dream on hold while he helps inspire young high school music students. Marching band competitions are serious business for students competing for scholarships in the movie Drumline.

Home Video Notes

Home Video Notes: School of Rock

Release Date: 1 January 2013

School of Rock released to home video on Blu-ray with the following extras:

- Feature Length Commentary

- Kids’ Commentary

- Lessons Learned on ‘School of Rock’

- Jack Black’s Pitch to Led Zepplin

- ‘School of Rock’ Music Video

- Kids’ Video Diary: Toronto Film Festival

- MTV’s Diary of Jack Black

- Dewey Finn’s History of Rock

- Theatrical Trailer HD

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About the Reviewer: Kerry Bennett

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