School of Rock was never one of my favorites to come out – and the story itself might be on the clichéd and predictable side – in 2003 but for music enthusiasts, and fans of Jack Black and Richard Linklater, it might hit the right note.
Genre(s): Comedy, Music
Paramount | PG13 – 109 min. – $22.98 | August 28, 2012
Directed by: Richard Linklater
Writer(s): Mike White (written by)
Cast: Jack Black, Joan Cusack, Mike White, Sarah Silverman
Theatrical Release Date: October 3, 2003
Features: 2 Commentaries, Featurettes, Music Video, Theatrical Trailer
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Portuguese (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.78
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish
Disc Size: 36.6 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
THE MOVIE – 3.25/5
Note: Portions of this were taken from my theatrical review written back in 2003. I have edited it to fit my current position, correct mistakes and/or make changes.
Let me begin by saying that I’m not the biggest fan of Jack Black’s comedy. The same way as many cannot stand Jim Carrey’s antics, I find it somewhat hard to sit through a Jack Black film. That said, Black’s newest shtick, School of Rock, is a dumb but decent enough comedy in same “class” (as it were) with Sister Act. Yes, I’m sure some of you are grimacing at the thought of the Whoopi Goldberg classic, but it did have its moments, just as School of Rock had its own.
The story is about Dewey Finn (Black), a wannabe rock star who gets fired from his own band that he formed and is also being harassed by his best friend’s, Ned Schneebly (MIKE WHITE), nagging girlfriend (Silverman) for not paying for his fair share of the rent. To pay the rent, he pretends to be Schneedbly and substitute teach at a prestigious and expensive (is there any other kind) elementary school.
Since Finn doesn’t know anything… at all, he teaches the kids what he knows best, rock and roll. He starts off by forming a band with each child performing a essential and convenient function. One kid is great at lead guitar, another one can play drums better than anyone who’s practice for years, and so on and so forth they go. Of course, there’s always that undiscovered talented singer in the group who is also shy. Convenient, yet understandable in a comedy like this. Soon, Dewey has the band of his dreams and decides to grab hold of the opportunity to enter them into a “Battle of the Bands” competition for $20 grand. However, we all know that what begins to be about the money turns into something from the heart… right?
What’s surprising about School of Rock are the people behind the camera who wrote and directed it. For instance, director Richard Linklater had made his entrance into Hollywood directing mainly dramatic comedies such as Slacker, Dazed and Confused and the romantic drama Before Sunrise (sequel coming in 2004). He also tackled (unsuccessfully) the 20’s gangster movie The Newton Boys starring Matthew McConaughey, Skeet Ulrich and Ethan Hawke.
Now, here he is after taking on unusual character films, with this movie that is generic and predictable as they come. But that’s alright. That criticism doesn’t (and shouldn’t) lay at Linklater’s feet. Instead, it befalls the great screenwriter (and actor) Mike White who had one of my favorite movies of 2002, called The Good Girl. Now, to be fair, looking at White’s filmography, this type of movie is not his first attempt. He was also the creator of Orange County (co-starring Black).
Jack Black himself is a talented actor who, like Jim Carrey, can make the most unusual, sometimes funny, facial expressions that while watching you think is so stupid but you cannot help but laugh just a little. Some of you reading, I believe, will find his antics annoying so buyer beware. However, myself being a non-Jack Black fan, I enjoyed his performance overall.
Joan Cusack does a fine job as the uptight principal of the prep school who has a wild streak hiding inside of her. While Cusack is funny, the character is a one-note comedy bit from “Saturday Night Live”.
I cannot finish this review without mentioning the kiddies. I’ve already accepted that I’m going to grow up to be a grumpy old man because, frankly, I find most people’s kids to be annoying (there are exceptions, of course). But nothing’s more irritating than kids in movies. In a kid ensemble like this, you’ll have the career actor whose actually good but the 10 other extras are plain bad at times. For the School of Rock, I thought, despite my previous statements, the kids were pretty good given their roles.
School of Rock is a decent enough comedy that is a good movie to pass a boring afternoon watching but as a home video purchase? I’m not so sure about that. However, it was a well-received movie so I’m on the outskirts with this opinion.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 3.25/5
All the features from the original DVD release were ported over.
Audio Commentaries – The first track is with Director Richard Linklater and Actor Jack Black while the other is a “Kids Kommentary” with the children from the film including Miranda Cosgrove who is now best known for her hit Nickelodeon series, “iCarly”. The first track is far more informative but also laid back while the second is looser but even the kids give their views on the movie, albeit it’s superficial.
Lessons Learned on School of Rock (24:50; SD) is a decent behind-the-scenes featurette where Jack Black does his routine before the cast/crew get into the story of the movie.
Jack Black’s Pitch to Led Zeppelin (3:35; SD) – This short but funny feature finds Black begging Zeppelin to use “The Immigrant” song in the movie.
Also included is the School of Rock Music Video (3:38; SD), Kids’ Video Diary: Toronto Film Festival (8:13; SD), MTV’s Diary of Jack Black (16:32; SD), Dewey Finn’s History of Rock and lastly, the film’s Theatrical Trailer (2:32; HD).
VIDEO – 3.5/5
Despite being released in 2003, so less than a decade ago, School of Rock arrives on stage with a banjo rather than electric guitar. This isn’t to say the 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encoded transfer wasn’t good or an insignificant improvement over the DVD version as the amount of detail was decent and the color array was even and I noticed no signs of it being pumped up.
AUDIO – 4.0/5
Where the disc does shine, it’s on the lossless 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. Given the amount of music, it allows the track to encompass the room providing nice depth to go along with the clear dialogue levels from the center channel and ambient noises (like children talking) from the front and rear speakers.
OVERALL – 3.25/5
Overall, School of Rock was never one of my favorites to come out – and the story itself might be on the clichéd and predictable side – in 2003 but for music enthusiasts, and fans of Jack Black and Richard Linklater, it might hit the right note. The Blu-ray ports over all the features from the DVD while the video and audio transfers are adequate/good.