Saturday, May 10, 2014

Ten Statements About....SCHOOL OF ROCK (2003)

No, it's not a shaved orangutan....
"One great rock show can change the world."

1) As with almost all Richard Linklatter films, this is fairly lightweight narratively...but that’s the charm, as the slight plot allows for greater characterization and an easier switch from broad to subtle comedy.

2) There never has, and never will be a more perfect role for Jack Black.  Linklatter and writer Mike White has managed to create in Dewey Finn a character that manages to fuse all of Black’s positives into an integrated, fully formed person without any of his excesses.  And speaking of Black....

3) ...who would have ever thought that Black’s perfect female lead was the pre-adolescent Miranda Cosgrove as Summer Hathaway?  There is such a wonderfully bizarre give and take between this chubby man-child and this adult in a child’s body that manages to propel the film through its potentially slow stretches.

4) Even thought she may be one-dimensional in this film, I sometimes wonder if anybody’s hotter than Sara
Mr. is the greatest leading lady you will
ever have.
Silverman.  Period.

5) You know, one of the charms of this film is how it seems to exist in some nether region.  Linklatter very consciously forgoes naming the city in which it takes place in (It was filmed in New York and portions of New Jersey), which results in a timeless quality.  This is a film that is not going to age any time soon because the only touchstone to place and time is the music involved.

6) I am thoroughly fascinated by Joan Cusack’s performance as Principal Mullins.  It’s obvious that Mullins is, for the most part, a bit of a caricature....and Cusack embraces that caricature nature, giving her a strange herky-jerky movement.  But every once in a while, a real person emerges, especially in the scene where she admits her insecurity to Dewey and the nervous moment where she kinda, sorta asks Dewey to be her date to parent-teacher night.  Her choices gives what would have been a one note character a unexpected dimension.

7) One of the true joys of Mike White’s script is that for the longest time Dewey does positive things for purely selfish reasons.  It’s not until his scheme is well in play--maybe even not until the parent conference--that he realizes he has genuine skills as a teacher, and cares for these kids.
"Let this be a warning...if you don't watch out, everything
bad and excessive will return to haunt you."

8) And give the film credit for not going in for the cliched Hollywood ‘Up With People’ ending, choosing instead to give us an ending where our heroes do not get what they want, but end up getting something just as satisfying.

9) I’ll freely admit that every one of the parents here are cardboard--but let’s be honest, is there any reason to give them any dimensionality, given that they’re only there to act as a counterpoint to Dewey?  That being said...I don’t care how surprised they are by their children’s proficiency, I can’t see those parents not bringing the school--or at least Dewey--up on charges.

10) Both the opening and closing credits show a real creativity.  The opening credits, which begin as a series of signs and posters as we descend into a rock club to first meet Dewey, perfectly set the tone for what we’re about to see, while the performance of AC/DC’s ‘Long Way To The Top’ not only acts as a bookend, it does the trick of assuring the filmgoers stay for the whole credit sequence. It also contains one truly great laugh to send everyone home with.

Overall...a funny film that manages to make the most of its core cast while being both rude and, well, kinda sweet.

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