Partner three hip, indie mavericks for a rock'n'roll high-school movie about screw-the-system rebellion and what do you get? If... with instruments? Bully with bass desires? Nope. The spawn of quirky scripter Mike White (Chuck & Buck), slacker auteur Richard Linklater (Dazed And Confused) and Tasmanian devil Jack Black (High Fidelity) emerges as a feet-first polar opposite: an affectionate, conventional and purely entertaining family flick. Which is no bad thing...
Black is Dewey Finn, a thirtysomething rocker whose guitar-god ambitions bellyflop when his bandmates ditch him. Behind on his rent, desperate for easy cash, Dewey blags his way into the job of a fifth-grade substitute teacher at a preppie private school. Not that he has any intention ofteaching them algebra, mind: the Battle of the Bands is in six weeks' time. Six weeks to teach his young charges the world-spinning power of rock while turning them into a hardcore group.
Well, scratch `hardcore'. Because Black's "stick it to The Man" revolution comes rubber-stamped PG - - no sex, no drugs, just good ol' rock'n'roll. But if his lewder, tastier snap has been muzzled, the Tenacious D wildman compensates by amping the gurning super-schtick to 11, his frenetic, whirlwind performance giving anarchic fizz to a surprisingly bland blueprint.
""I've touched your kids"," Dewey innocently tells the nippers' well-to-do parents. ""And I'm pretty sure they've touched me"." Truth is, the twanging zingers don't get that good that often, but White's script is funny and smart enough to strike all the mainstream power-chords. These characters aren't dazed and confused, they're a roll-call of stereotypes and class caricatures - - Geek, Dude, Fatty, Bossy, Camp - - right up to Joan Cusack's ramrod principle who needs to get back in touch with her inner rock-chick. And you know what? It doesn't matter a bit. Because School Of Rock loves them with honest conviction, making it okay for us to love 'em as well.
Loud and likeable, this formula-farce won't rock your world - but it will make it a funnier place to be for a couple of hours.