Directed by: Richard Linklater
Written by:Mike White
Starring: Jack Black, Joan Cusack, Mike White, Sarah Silverman
Released: November 20, 2003
Grade: B

Dewey Finn (Black) is a lover of rock music but little else.  He doesn’t have a job and all he focuses on is creating music with his four member band.  There’s an upcoming competition where $10,000 is awarded to best group and it’s the prospect Dewey has to put money in the bank.  Dewey’s been relying on roommate Ned Schneebly (White) to pay his rent for him but Ned’s girlfriend Patty (Silverman) tells him to put his foot down and boot him out.

Knowing he’s going to need a job, a simple phone call will rectify the situation.  You see, Ned is a substitute teacher and Dewey gets a call from the principal of a prestigious primary school, Rosalie Mullins (Cusack), to see if Ned would like a few weeks work teaching some third-graders.  The light blubs go off in Dewey’s head, he passes himself off as Ned and turns up that afternoon to begin work as a teacher.

Dewey knows about as much as these kids do when it comes to maths, English and geography.  But there’s one topic he knows better than any other – rock ‘n’ roll.  Over the next three weeks, he will teach nothing but it.  When his band sacks him and finds a replacement lead singer, another crazy idea comes to Dewey.  He’s going to train and transform these kids into a band of their own and win the $10,000 prize.

Jack Black (Shallow Hal, High Fidelity) leads from the front with an insanely passionate performance.  He’s a musician himself and a great friend to fellow actor Mike White (who plays Ned Schneebly).  White wrote the film’s screenplay and I’m sure he had Black in mind as he put pen to paper.  It’s the third film White has written in the past two years with The School Of Rock following The Good Girl (with Jennifer Aniston) and Orange County (which also featured Black).

Is this screenplay from Black and White a little too “black and white”?  Ha ha!  How’s that for a lame joke?  Seriously, I had some fun but that little voice in the back of my head wouldn’t let me surrender.  There whole idea is ludicrous and my mind was too frequently distracted.  How could not one of the parents have said something to the principal?  How could such young kids master the art of rock in less than a month?  How could they pull the wool over the eyes all the other teachers and students?  Perhaps I am too easily annoyed.

What had me most excited by The School Of Rock was hearing it was directed by 42-year-old director Richard Linklater who prides himself in originality.  Just last year I praised his low-budget independent film Tape (which starred Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman) but many more will know some of his other works including Waking Life, Before Sunrise and Dazed & Confused.  I did enjoy the cinematography of the production by aside, it didn’t feel like a true Linklater film.

If there’s one thing Linklater does in this film, it’s keeping the audience in their seats until the very end of the closing credits.  Jack Black and the kids sing “It’s A Long Way To The Top” and no one was sneaking out early.  It certainly is a long way to the top in this industry and yes, this film is worth a look, but no, it hasn’t come close to reaching the top.