School of Rock

School of Rock ★★★★

It’s rare to see a screenplay/film and its star in perfect synchronised harmony. Yet that’s what we get with Jack Black and School of Rock. A perfect star vehicle. And a smart, unglamorous screenplay.

Black is totally watchable and charming. I was going to say “effortlessly charming” but he’s such a manic ball of energy that that term does seem to sell him short. He squeezes every ounce of his comic talents into this role and his repartee with the kids is unforced and natural. 

It’s interesting watching this as a teacher 18 years later. Every time Black made a physical connection with a student, be it a harmless hand on the shoulder or a pat on the back, I winced at what the PC thugs would say about it now. What a time to be alive. And be a teacher. Not.

This is a film that is humble in its offerings and doesn’t pander to its family audience. There’s very little saccharine in this. Black’s hero certainly matures and grows as a person, but that growth is communicated with subtlety and nuance. And it doesn’t follow the formulaic tropes of the genre. The stakes are never overstated or overplayed. Rather, it balances the “music as self-expression” and the “teacher inspiring students” themes that are often so overblown in other films with humility and grace.

A competent and deceptively clever film.