Jack Black finally gets the attention his many die-hard fans believe he deserves in The School of Rock, an innocent and genuine comedy that is entertaining from beginning to end.
Black, who is most known for his roles in Saving Silverman, High Fidelity and most recently Shallow Hal, stars as Dewey, an out-of-work rocker that pretends to be a substitute teacher at a prep school to make some money. His interest in the kids is meager at best, that is until he discovers that they are all musical geniuses and decides that they would make the perfect band should he be able to train them. Math and science aside, he devotes several weeks of their education solely to rock music, preparing them for the big Battle of the Bands at the end of the month.
Black, who generally plays very enthusiastic and hyperactive characters, is in his element here as a rocker with nowhere to go but up. The movie oozes his enthusiasm at every possible moment, and ultimately relies on it. Black is so intense and entertaining to watch that even so-so scenes he makes entertaining. His fans have known this for years, but Black is probably one of the most exciting comic actors to hit the screen in a long time.
Again, School of Rock is the perfect film for him. The leader of the rock-comedy band "Tenacious D," he was due fuse his onscreen and offscreen talents at some point. In the movie, it becomes clear that he really does care about the legacy of rock, but at the same time is aware that there are elements that must be joked about. Of course, this movie is about a bunch of 10-year olds (very talented 10-year olds) that end up being in a rock band, so every thing is taken with a grain of salt (especially the jokes about the groupies).
As a whole, School of Rock is entertaining and chuckle-funny, able to keep the audience tuned in without ever blowing them away. It isn't quite as funny as I was expecting, and in turn a little disappointing at times, but nevertheless there isn't really a bad spot in the entire film. Even when School of Rock isn't specifically funny, it is still entertaining.
The movie only suffers when Black first takes on the role of school teacher; at this point of the movie it seems as though Black's character cares nothing for the children around him. Perhaps it is the point, but his disregard for education seems a little overdone; what person, even a poser, wouldn't even try to teach something to children for several eight-hour periods? At the very least, some good jokes could have arisen from Black attempting to teach the kids legitimate information.
On the other hand, one aspect of the film that puts it above many similar films is that it never tries to do too much in the ending. After his fraudulent activities are revealed, the movie never tries to tidy up all the loose ends into one happy package; much of this stuff is usually cliched and unrealistic, so why even put them in the movie?
School of Rock doesn't completely tap Jack Black's comedic capabilities, but at the sime does tap his passion and explores it thoroughly. Whether you like rock or not, School of Rock is an entertaining and well-assembled comedy that is easy to like and hard to hate.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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