Hello and happy Valentines! I am your conductor here aboard the railroad, and tonight we’re going to be looking at one real doozy of a love story. Not in that traditional, love at first sight dynamic between two characters, rather, the total admiration of a certain passion. So not love in the romantic term, but in the textbook definition. The film is School of Rock, directed by Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused, Boyhood) and stars the hilarious Jack Black. So, without wasting any more breath, let’s get this show on the road and determine this “true love”.
Dewey Finn, a guitarist that is kicked out of a rock band, begins to swim in wallow and debt. However, he inconspicuously impersonates his mild-mannered roommate as a substitute teacher at a posh private school. Finn’s energetic nature and larks leave a positive impact on the children, encouraging them to form a scattershot rock band. Can the upcoming “Battle of the Bands” be won, or will the principal dissolve Finn’s facade?
So essentially what I was implying before was Black’s character Dewey Finn’s love of rock music. And you can read through the performance how much Black is dedicated the role and was probably having the time of his life. For many, they will recognize him as the second half of “mock rock” band Tenacious D, so in many ways I’m sure the real actor also loved heavy metal as much as his persona featured in School of Rock. Black also harnesses some form of charisma naturally, as if he were some mythical aura creature from the wild. Or in other words, born an entertainer. Such a great job!
Now as a Survivor fan – guilty as charged – I did notice the name of one Mike White, a fellow who has created a couple of movies and was a castaway in season 37 of the eponymous reality show. He, in addition, portrays Finn’s scapegoat flatmate Ned Schneebly; such a fitting name for a character with his personality. But his writing for the film is really solid, displaying marvelously each main players’ faults and executing something very refreshing… by not talking down to the audience! Hollywood hot shots, please just stop acting like we’re chowderheads (food reference ahoy, Vic). We don’t need to be spoon-fed (another!).
Unironically for a film with Richard Linklater at the wheel, School of Rock is very funny; in a way where the humor is timeless. Underneath all the comedy euphoria and Black’s refined acting chops, the story is equally anchored by strong schmaltz. Upon a deeper dive, White’s screenplay feels almost like a closely knitted fabric of farce from everyday life. It doesn’t ignore the weave of little whimsies, it thrives with them. And, as the great Roger Ebert inquired, “… Dewey Finn doesn’t star as a disreputable character and then turns gooey. Jack Black remains true to his irascible character all the way through…”.
Now take this into consideration: I’ve seen a solid handful of band films, and yet not too many of them successfully encourage me to join in a music group. I mean, I have minimal interest in the band lifestyle, maybe excusing the comradeship and the fact that actually listening to music is a moderately more appealing hobby. But then again, I am not even slightly magnetized to being a pirate, but Hook and Castle in the Sky make it look pretty sick, right? Now, I guess we’ll await the eventual raging comments from swashbucklers or something insulting their way of life. Trust me, you would not believe the odd spam messages I receive.
Anyways, back to the film now. While the scope and morals of Tinsel Town are constantly shifting to the current trope in cinema, our film “critics” have transformed into sardonic and picky viewers. They’re always desiring wholly original, complex, arthouse motion pictures and nothing less, which is sort of disheartening. Although the thing is, many of them do really enjoy School of Rock. I’m starting to miss the bygone era where on frequent occasion these critics can admit to having a good time watching something as one-note but entertaining as Jack Black teaching stuck up kids how to rock and roll. Those were the good days.
Thanks for tuning in!
NEXT WEEK | Z Channel and the Legacy of the “Daily TV Film Festival”