Rule 1: We watch it cuz it’s free.
This is actually a pretty sweet deal. Every week there’s a new, free movie at one local theater or another, and they leave piles of passes at my wife’s place of employ. Usually it’s something that’s just about ready for release, a sneak preview. But sometimes we get to see really early releases. Such was the case last night with the upcoming Jack Black comedy, School of Rock.
Right of the bat, I didn’t like the sound of this one:
Down and out rock star Dewey Finn (Black) gets fired from his band, and he faces a mountain of debts and depression. He takes a job as a 4th grade substitute teacher at an uptight private school where his attitude and hijinx have a powerful effect on his students. He also meets Zach (Joey Gaydos), a 9-year-old guitar prodigy, who could help Dewey win a “battle of the bands” competition, which would solve his financial problems and put him back in the spotlight.
But I was asked to remember Rule 1. So, off we went.
Yes, it was everything it purported to be. It was a cliched run through a well-worn plot. Black becomes a rock-n-roll version of Robin Williams in The Dead Poet’s Society, molding his students (who are somehow both completely ignorant of basic pop/rock culture, yet are instant virtuoso rockers) into a cool rock band, a la AC/DC or The Partridge Family on crack.
But, somehow, the combination of Black’s complete goofiness (you either love him or you hate him), the raw nature of the version of the film we saw (no credits, grainy print, incomplete music and sound), and the kids’ real talent–not to mention the killer soundtrack of Ramones, Clash, Sex Pistols, Zeppelin, Who, etc.–made me leave the show with a smile on my face. Black does the same kind of over-the-top rock wild man stuff as with Tenacious D, and it gives the movie at least a little bit of attitude.
What we really enjoyed was the performances of the kids. They weren’t uber-cute, and they could play. The “finishing touches” the studio puts on the movie might wipe it out, because some of the garage band audio wasn’t exactly perfect. But that’s what I liked about it. If they don’t mess it up between now and it’s release in October(?), make sure you stay for the credits.
OK, so it wasn’t hilarious. And it wasn’t particularly dramatic. But, overall, I thought it was a pretty neat family movie.
I’m hoping it’s not just because of Rule 1.