As is the case every summer, at venues throughout the world, classic rock bands reunite, and their concerts are comprised of the vintage hits that made them famous. Audiences never tire of the musical anthems of their youth. Director Richard Linklater (his latest film, "Boyhood," opens this week) made a cinematic celebration of the appeal of Rock and Roll: "School of Rock," a family comedy released in 2003.
In "School of Rock," Jack Black plays Dewey Finn, an aspiring musician living close to the financial edge while trying with his band, "No Vacancy," to get a big break. He owes several months of back rent to his sheepish roommate, Ned (played by Mike White). Dewey's life becomes complicated when Ned's pushy girlfriend, Patty (played by Sarah Silverman), focus's Ned's sights on money, and his over the top stage antics get him kicked out of his band. He tries to find new ways to make money. Ned works as a substitute teacher, and Dewey receives a call from a school principal (played by Joan Cusack), asking for Ned to sub. Dewey pretends to be Ned and shows up in a fourth grade classroom. As he gets to know the ambitious kids, he finds they are skilled in music and starts a band with them. Soon all of their energies are focused on the band, but, of course, Dewey's ruse as a substitute teacher soon gets in the way.
"School of Rock" is a very funny movie with many great characters, including superbly played kids. One of the best is Summer, a preppy student whom Dewey makes band manager.
Jack Black shines in the lead role. We see that Dewey transforms from a self-absorbed rocker/slacker to a slightly more mature teacher who is able to think of others. Joan Cusack is terrific as the slightly uptight, but kind principal, who befriends Dewey. She is quite good in a scene where she gets drunk while listening to Stevie Nicks.
"School of Rock" is a great choice for rock and roll fans.