I generally like Jack Black when he plays supporting roles. He has been uneven when he has to carry a film himself. School of Rock is one of the times he pulls off a lead role well. Black plays a man/child with a heck of a lot more brains than Adam Sandler. Therefore, he is a heck of a lot more entertaining.
Finn has no clue how to handle these prep school fifth graders, so he gives them all recess until he overhears them in music class. Realizing they have big musical talent, he turns the class into a hard rock band with full management staff behind the back of the stuffy principal, Mrs. Mullins. (Joan Cusack) finn plans to enter the kids’ band into the rock contest he was originally planning to play in with hopes of a large cash prize. The kids take to rock and roll fast, but soon Finn is discovered to be a fraud. When the principal gets rid of him, the kids decide to compete in the contest anyway, taking a now very depressed Finn along.
They lose, but an encore is demanded by the crowd. Everything predictably works out in the end. The parents forgive finn for derailing their kids’ education. Mrs. Mullins comes around. Finn is hired to run an after school music program. No harm is done. It is a trite, happy ending, but fits perfectly well with the tone of the rest of the film.
I liked School of Rock overall. The story is awfully implausible, but some of the jokes about the touchy feely, child psychology method of teaching these days were amusing. I also give kudos for letting the kids be kids without making them purposefully cute or vulgar for shock value. It is a decent, funny family movie that does not talk down to kids or bore adults. Classic rock fans have to appreciate the soundtrack and finn’s enthusiasm for what rock and roll is all about--sticking it to the Man..
Rating: *** (out of 5)