Black Schools the World on Rock

Published: Wednesday, October 1, 2003 at 11:29 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 1, 2003 at 3:23 p.m.

"High Fidelity," the 2000 comedy based on the nearly-as-good book by Nick Hornby, was a good movie on its own. It was, however, the scene-stealing performance of Jack Black that drew people who could care less about good records into watching it. And although the clued-in already knew Black was brilliant from his days on Mr. Show and the various incarnations of his musical group, Tenacious D, the less-than-stellar "Shallow Hal" and "Saving Silverman" caused recent bandwagon fans to doubt his skill.

"School of Rock," hitting theaters this Friday, not only redeems Black, but finally proclaims his arrival as a real-life, pseudo-schizophrenic bona fide star that some are comparing to John Belushi. (And they would be right, only Black is better.)

To be honest, Jack Black has yet to put in a bad performance. The problem was with the poor subject matter. With "School of Rock," there's no chance the movie will have rough spots because Black is in nearly every scene. He delivers every single time because, as a guy with roots in rock music, he can't fail when playing a character who also claims to embody rock.

The story revolves around failed metal guitarist Dewey Finn (Black), who gets kicked out of his own band for sucking. The next day, Finn's roommate and best friend Ned (Mike White, of "The Good Girl") and his girlfriend Patty (Sarah Silverman) wake him up demanding he finally pay rent or get out.

Ned happens to be a substitute teacher, which gives Finn a way into subbing for an elementary school class at a local prep school. Suffering horribly in the job until he sees his students playing in music class, Finn turns the class into a band, complete with an overachieving student as their manager, and teaches them to rock.

With a band of 10-year-olds who can actually play guitar, bass, keyboards and drums, as well as a gaggle of background singers, Finn takes the class to a battle of the bands. The contest is reminiscent of the Whoopi Goldberg classic "Sister Act 2" - only this version is a little more Twisted Sister than "Sister Act."

Written by White, who did 2002's most underrated movie, "The Good Girl," and directed by Richard Linklater ("Dazed and Confused"), this is probably the funniest and most entertaining movie set to come out this year. For those who don't give a damn about rock and roll, the heartwarming (yet thankfully not cheesy) ending makes it worth the pain. Though the 10-year-old kid actually playing an Angus Young solo to near perfection is tough to beat.

At the risk of sounding like a fat, 50-year-old film critic, this movie has something for everybody and no elitist hipster can deny it. Jack Black is quality and "School of Rock" is awesome. Believe the hype and go see it - twice.

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