It’s hard to believe School of Rock is now twenty years old and the product of a bygone era. Kids today don’t really listen to good ol’ fashioned rock & roll anymore and Jack Black is probably most-known to them as the voice of Po in Kung Fu Panda.
But back in the day, Jack Black was just plain funny. He didn't even have to be saying anything particularly clever. His timing, delivery and mannerisms allowed him to steal movies from many of his co-stars. The success of School of Rock rested almost entirely on Black’s shoulders in a role tailor-made to suit his style. He turned a decent film into a great one.
Black plays Dewey Finn, the lead guitarist in a local bar band who lives, eats and breathes rock & roll 24 hours a day. Ousted by his bandmates, Dewey finds himself unemployed and heavily in debt to his roommate, Ned Schneebly (screenwriter Mike White), who once played with Finn, but has since given up on rock stardom and now works as a substitute teacher.
He intercepts a phone call requesting Schneebly for an extended sub job at a prestigious prep school. Desperate for cash, Finn accepts the position for himself, posing as his roommate and content to show up for the paycheck.
But overhearing them during music class, Finn has a revelation: to fulfill his dream of competing in the upcoming “Battle of the Bands” competition by turning these kids into rockers and forming a band, with himself as lead guitarist. Spending every school day preparing for the competition for the event, Finn and the kids do all they can to keep it secret from Principal Mullins (Joan Cusack), the parents and school staff. All the while, of course, Finn starts to actually care about these kids, beyond their musical talent.
|"You gonna eat those tots?"|
Considering Black’s slacker persona at the time and the heavy metal subject matter, School of Rock is a sweet-natured film. I’m still wondering why it was slapped with a PG-13 rating, since this is one of those rare non-animated films that’s obviously aimed at all ages. It may already be a period piece, but remains as funny as ever.
Keep in mind, however, that the only thing new about this 20th Anniversary Edition is the SteelBook packaging. All the bonus features are the same as those from previous Blu-ray & DVD releases.
FEATURETTES - Lessons Learned on School of Rock (making-of); Jack Black’s Pitch to Led Zeppelin (I guess his pitch was successful); Kids’ Video Diary (from the Toronto Film Festival); MTV’s Diary of Jack Black (probably the most amusing of the bonus features).
DEWEY FINN’S HISTORY OF ROCK - Interactive feature highlighting various classic artists and musical subgenres.
2 AUDIO COMMENTARIES - 1) By Jack Black & director Richard Linklater; 2) “Kids’ Kommentary”.