Prayer Focus
Movie Review

The School of Rock

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some rude humor and drug references

Reviewed by: Rosemarie Ute Hoffman
CONTRIBUTOR

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults Mature Teens
Genre:
Comedy and Musical/Performing Arts
Length:
1 hr. 48 min.
Copyright, Paramount Pictures
Copyright, Paramount Pictures
Copyright, Paramount Pictures
Copyright, Paramount Pictures
Copyright, Paramount Pictures
Copyright, Paramount Pictures
Copyright, Paramount Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Paramount Pictures

Are we living in a moral Stone Age? We hear a lot today about how Johnny can’t read, how he can’t write, and the trouble he is having finding France on a map. It is also true that Johnny is having difficulty distinguishing right from wrong. Answer

How can I know what is right and what is wrong? Answer

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. …For all that is in the world; the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life; is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, …but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17).

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” (Gal. 5:22-23).

“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness…” (Matt. 6:33).

What does God expect of me? Answer

In a world where we are continually let down, we can totally rely on, trust in, count on God’s promises. He will never, ever, let you down. Learn more

If God knows I am hurting, why doesn’t He help me? Answer

Starring: Jack Black, Joan Cusack, Sarah Silverman, Mike White, Joey Gaydes | Directed by: Richard Linklater (THE NEWTON BOYS) | Produced by: Steve Nicolaides, Scott Rudin | Written by: Mike White (ORANGE COUNTY) | Distributor: Paramount Pictures

“The School of Rock” features Dewey Finn (Jack Black), a rock and roll legend in his own mind. He will do anything and con anyone into his web of deception as he masterfully attains the ultimate—competing in the “Battle of the Bands.”

Screenwriter Mike White along with the director Richard Linklater, successfully introduces a theme of youth rebellion—exploring generational morals. They take a mild-mannered brood of young well-educated and gifted prodigies, and transform them into cussing, passionate, driven children.

Dewey has been free loading off his friend Ned Schneebly (screenwriter Mike White) since the days of performing in their “garage band.” They room together with Ned’s overbearing girlfriend, Patty (Sarah Silverman), who incessantly degrades Dewey. Even so, he continues to chase his dream of being a rock star as the lead guitarist in a band he brought together. Conversely, Ned is a substitute teacher and lacks both backbone and wishbone. Unfortunately, Dewey’s days are numbered. His roommates demand back rent and the band votes him out. Despite the trials, Dewey is committed to falling with dignity—never selling out. He puts his failures behind and focuses on his dreams—they all will be funny little footnotes in the end.

While Dewey tries to sell his guitar over the telephone unsuccessfully, he answers a call for Ned from Principal Mullins (Jan Cusak) of Horace Green Preparatory. She is looking for a substitute to replace an absent, injured teacher. Without much thought, Dewey decides to impersonate Ned to quickly solve his financial woes. He accepts the offer to teach 4th grade at the uptight private school that adheres to a strict code of conduct.

Dewey soon finds out the students are conservative, fearful and caught up with Horace Green’s system of recognition and demerits. On the second day of the job, and at a student’s request to learn, Dewey tells them, “You should give up. Quit! Yes, you could try, but in the end you will just lose because of ‘the man’.” He further recounts who “the man” is—anyone in authority. Dewey concludes the lesson with, “You could once stick it to “the man” through rock and roll.”

While lurking in the hallway during a music class, Dewey discovers that his students study classical music. As usual, he manipulates someone else’s potential to his advantage—no matter the cost. Through deception, he convinces the children to cooperate in the school project “rock band.” He quickly determines each student’s prominent talent and assigns each one to a specific task. Though a handful were in the band, others were assigned as back-up singers, roadie crew, security and groupies—all are included.

As the project begins Dewey shares his convoluted theory with a student who is an outcast, telling him he is “cool” if he rocks in a band. He also instructs the groupies on their responsibilities, which includes worshiping the band, and then leads the class in a rendition of “Pledge of Allegiance to the Band.”

Later in a music exercise, Dewey tries to poke at their hidden resentments and passions by using anger as a tool; he asks them, “What makes you mad?” He further encourages them to break the rules and to get mad at “the man.”

Dewey’s schemes are not limited to the students, but include the principal as well. He invites her out for coffee, and they end up in a jukebox joint that only serves beer. Dewey needs to convince her to make an exception and authorize an educational field trip with his class. He uses a powerful mixture of alcohol and a Stevie Nicks tune to persuade her.

Before long, Dewey has the whole class participating in some unethical activities of lying and deceiving through lookouts using the Internet. Similarly, after being denied an audition for “Battle of the Bands,” a student makes up a cunning story deception—claiming that they are from a children’s hospital with a terminal disease. The stunt works, and they are included on the roster.

On Parent’s Night at Horace Green things turn for the worse. Dewey’s gig is up when they find out that he is an imposter. However, the children take matters into their own hands and collectively decide to go through with the audition. They even arrange for the bus driver to pick up Dewey where he lives. While still in bed, Dewey is confronted by a few children. He confesses that he is a loser, but the children insist. He apologizes for using them and says he has learned there is no “I” in team.

Before going on stage (with parents, principal and Ned in the audience), the band says a prayer to the “God of Rock” with a bare-chested-cross-tattooed, undulating man in the background. As they rock out, skull and cross bones appear in their video accompaniment. Though the audience preferred their act, the better-looking band is announced the winner.

Breaking the rules while following passion to pursue dreams can be destructive. Never use the end to justify the means. Problems or trials help us to endure, endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confidence in the expectation of dreams coming true.

Violence: None | Profanity: Moderate | Sex/Nudity: Minor

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—As a 22 year old male, I enjoyed the film because I enjoy music and I enjoyed the plot of the class uniting and coming together to do one great show. The film has its ups and downs. Some ups are when Jack Black’s character realizes it is about teamwork and not himself, and also when the parents see that there kids are really talented. However, at the same time, there are some offensive scenes such as the kids praying to the “God of Rock” and the fact that the kids sometimes come across as rebellious against authority (although there are no major outbursts or incidents). All in all, this film should be suitable for teens and up, and its really pretty funny if you take it for the comedy that it is.
My Ratings: [Somewhat Offensive / 4]
—Josh Underwood, age 22
Positive—This movie features a remarkable cast including kids who are not horrible actors. Jack Black and Joan Cusack are wonderful. This movie is very fun and enjoyable for the entire family. There is very little profanity and what is there, is mild. The film shows a positive message of working together and working towards your dreams. It also discourages all of the terrible music of the MTV set. The movie is hilarious without resorting to physical gags or potty humor, which is an accomplishment in itself.
My Ratings: [Good / 4]
—Brandon, age 20
Positive—My wife and I went to see this movie and we both walked away, overall, having been glad we did. Before our respective walks with the Lord we both freely admit that the kind of rock played in this movie were songs we both at one point enjoyed listening too. The movie itself was hilarious. Jack Black remains unapologetically true to his character from beginning to end and I was glad that the movie didn’t get bogged down in formula and sappiness which is easy to do when you have a movie starring children.

However, I was dismayed at the amount of crude language freely uttered by the children. On several occasions, the fourth graders belt out profanities that I would take serious issue with had any of those kids been mine. (Although to their credit, they never get worse than typical “PG-13” profanities.) They also use a fair amount of deception and rebellion to achieve their ultimate goal. This, I don’t believe however, was done with any kind of malice or potentially destructive behavior in mind. I chalked it up to them just being typical kids. Anyone gun-shy about watching a movie with lots of classic rock and children using mild profanities may not want to view this movie. It is a must see for everyone else.
My Ratings: [Somewhat Offensive / 4]
—Scott Foster, age 32
Positive—Before seeing this movie, I went to several Web sites determining whether or not I should indeed see this movie. I am a big fan of Jack Black, but knowing his track record of offensive movies in the past, I wanted to be sure I didn’t go see anything that would make me regret it later. In this entire movie, I can’t remember a single sexual offensive part. There isn’t anyone dressed inappropriately or causing myself as a guy to become tempted to lust. I was very pleased with this, because I really wanted to see a movie that was funny and wouldn’t make me lust. I am not offended by profanity, which this movie contains a little bit of. I am offended by the Lord’s name being taken in vain. But I don’t believe there was any of that. Overall, I am very glad that I saw this movie. It was very cute, and I would recommend this movie.
My Ratings: [Good/4]
—Tommy Peterson aka djSola, age 25
Neutral
Neutral—I tend to like Jack Black (for his down to earthness), although I’m not crazy about his “all or nothing to rock and roll” attitude at times, not to mention the “satanic” undertones of his band “Tenacious D.” Having grown up during the 80’s when glamour and heavy metal rock were the buzz, I see Jack’s youthful exuberance in his passion for the music that I once had. I take my hat off to the writers for the scene where Jack chastises his young drummer when he found him in a van playing cards with some shady characters. Black (Finn) pointed out to the boy that because of their lifestyle, “those guys were going nowhere,” and the youngster was to avoid associating with those types. As mentioned by others, I was not at all thrilled by the prayer to the “god of rock.”

Another aspect of this movie that bothered me… was the role of Billy, the groups “stylist.” The role was played by Brian Fuldato. The kid gave such a good performance that its hard to determine if he is really as ditsy as he portrayed or if he was just acting. I hope that he was just acting. I also hope that the poor kid is not the object of mocking or ridicule in his social and personal life. What bothered me is how Hollywood is now casting children in roles that, in my opinion, rob these kids of their innocence. Children have enough to contend with growing up in today’s world, and I feel that we, as adults should not bring controversial, adult issues into their lives, in any way. Children need to be focused on learning and developing, on having their dreams and doing what they have to do in order to achieve them. Most importantly, children need a solid foundation of faith in God. There seems to be a moral vacuum in our society where relativism rules the day.

The charactrer “Billy” aside, I hope that young Brian Fuldato is not experiencing any adversity in his life as a consequence of the role he played. It’s the real kids that matter after all. I apologize for going on a bit of a tangent here, but as a Christian I wanted to share what was on my heart. God Bless.
My Ratings: [Average/2]
—Bill Venieris, age 35
Neutral—This show was quite cool… the music was good, but I juz didn’t like Black praying to the “god of rock”…it was a joke gone too far… and him teaching the kids to give up and to be angry was not something that we should learn. But if you juz “filter” some of the parts and elements, it’s quite an enjoyable show.
My Ratings: [Average/3]
—Grace Koh, age 20
Negative
Negative—The first thing I thought of when viewing this film was the excellent “Mr. Holland’s Opus.” In a similar fashion, both men get into teaching as a way to provide to make money. While Mr. Holland uses music, such as “Louie, Louie” to improve students’ thinking and musical ability, Dewey Finn uses music for his own selfish ends. Mr. Holland uplifts and inspires. Dewey ends up corrupting his young charges. He teaches them to lie, deceive, rebel, and worship rock music, among other things. Jack Black is a very visually funny actor. However, the lack of moral uplift in this film makes it a poor choice for impressionable children and teenagers.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/3]
—Art Heyman, age 56
Negative—As much as I think Jack Black is funny, this movie disappointed. …Jack Black does his best with a story line that really fizzles out as the movie progresses. The beginning is quite funny, but then the movie turns silly and offensive (and I saw the airplane’s “edited” version.). There is even a scene where Jack Black (Dewey Finn) gathers the school children and bows his head to pray to the “god of rock.” And it wasn’t the Solid Rock, if you catch my drift. I seem to remember the Lord’s name in vain (not gratuitous but still offensive). And there are a lot of references to Rock N Roll and the glorification thereof. However, most of it is humorous and Jack Black plays a “loser” as well as anyone. You don’t have to think too hard watching this movie, and if you can find and edited version, you might find it entertaining.
My Ratings: [Average/1]
—Michael Angelovic, age 35
Comments from young people
Negative—This movie was one of the most offensive movies that I have watched. Due to the main character criticizing life, making kids break the rules, profaning prayer in his prayer to the “god of rock” at the end is very disturbing to me. I think it’s horrible that they made the kids involved in that movie act that kind of thing out. Definitely not a good movie in my view.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/3]
—Skylar, age 16
Positive—…It’s a great, funny story about a guy who learns responsibility. He teaches the kids that “rock is not about getting wasted and being a jerk.” What more positive message could you ask for?
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4]
—Lydia, age 17
Negative—When my family sat down to watch this movie, I was really excited. The advertisements seemed to make the film seem very funny. I was so offended about the influence of the lead role, played by Jack Black. Instead of just inspiring kids to follow their dreams, he teaches them to lie to their parents, use filthy language, and one boy in particular ends up play poker with alcoholic musicians before a show. It would be wise for a parent to watch this film before allowing their children to.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/2]
—Mariette O., age 14
Positive—I thought this was a really really funny movie. Jack Black is so wierd it’s hilarious. There was some swearing, but it wasn’t that bad at all. The kids were funny and the drummer is so hot! I think this could really be great for anyone to see. The music was great and so was the singing. I would recommend this movie any day.
My Ratings: [Good/5]
—Anna Meyer, age 13
Positive—I thought the movie was very funny, but I think it would be one of those movies you would only want to see once or twice. There were some parts that were kind of slow, and I don’t think that the kids had to swear so much!
My Ratings: [Better than Average/3]
—Krista, age 14
Positive—I thought this was a really good movie. In the end, it’s a good moral how Dewey ends up caring for the kids and not just doing it for himself, he gives the kids something to believe in besides grades. I thought it was a really good movie and good for a few laughs. There was some cussing in it, I’m not entirely sure how much but not too bad.
My Ratings: [SLIGHTLY Objectionable / 4]
—Amber, age 18
Positive—I think this film was fun and funny at the same time! Although I did feel like they could have removed some of the foul language that the kids were saying. Without the foul language and the alcohol, this movie could have been rated PG… but otherwise it was cute. Unrealistic, but very cute. Jack Black was a great actor in this movie! …so …thumbs up! I do recommend it!
My Ratings: [Better than Average/3]
—Liz, age 13
Positive—I thought this movie rocked!! Jack Black is a hysterical actor. During the first half of the movie Jack Black is selfish and just wants to go to the Battle of the Bands. But near the end he starts to care for the kids and ends up having a good time. The kids could have dropped the language, but besides that it was awesome.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/5]
—Evelyn H., age 15
Movie Critics
…stereotypical gay portrayal of one of the young male students (his likes and dislikes, way of speaking and moving, etc.). Likewise, more sensitive viewers might not like the following child molestation-related humor: Various parents misunderstand Dewey when he says, “I’ve been touched by your kids and I’m pretty sure I’ve touched them.”…
—ScreenIt!
…When Black is building his pupils’ self-esteem, “School of Rock” rocks. But their education includes lessons in rebellion and belting out profane lyrics. …puts its feel-good faith in all the wrong things…
—Bob Smithouser, Plugged In!
…The key to the film’s watchability lies in your opinion of lead actor Jack Black, who (depending on your view of him) either carries “The School of Rock” on his back or buries it under his impressive weight…
—James Berardinelli, ReelViews
…Finn’s philosophy is simple and idealistic: One great rock show can change the world. Dewey delivers a positive message about pursuing dreams, but he also mocks traditional authority figures. “School of Rock” has no class…
—Brian Hughes, Preview Family Movie and TV Review
…Here is a movie that proves you can make a family film that’s alive and well-acted and smart and perceptive and funny—and that rocks…
—Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times