School of Rock on DVD
By Rudy Rhodes and Johnny Bray
A great rock n roll show can change the world.
Just ask Jack Black, who stars as a failed Hippster Duffus metal head guitarist
in Paramount Pictures School of Rock, co-starring Joan Cusack and a talented
group of elementary school gonna-be rock stars.
Performance and charm make for an enjoyable show. Cusack is the Ice Queen wannabe-Stevie
Nicks, and combine that with rock n roll references aplenty and an underlying
message of being an individual and letting children explore all opportunities
in finding their own identities and you have this movie.
But its Black, with his comedic timing and delivery, that steals the
show. There are times when his acting reminds us of the late Chris Farley, but
its his over the top musical performance as Meatloaf-meets-Angus Young
that shine through the brightest.
School of Rock has all the elements in place for a great comedy; unfortunately
it doesnt quite work as a whole. Its a little too kid-friendly,
when it should have been aimed more at the generation who grew up with the music.
There are a few jokes that create a laugh out loud atmosphere, but overall you
cant help but be a little disappointed. It probably works great for the
family atmosphere, but those looking for a Dazed & Confused-style rock n
roll trip should watch Dazed & Confused.
Still, though, School of Rock is a sincere and heartfelt look at just how inspirational
and powerful the dreams of rock n roll stardom can be.
One of Paramounts only hits last year, School of Rock is presented in
a pretty cool little special edition featuring a great soundtrack and a wealth
of extras. Presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, the video quality is good,
though not spectacular. Color and detail are fairly well done, and theres
not much grain, but fleshtones look a little off, and its pretty soft
But the audio track, in its Dolby Digital 5.1 incarnation, makes up for it.
The dialogue-heavy movie uses mostly the front speakers for most of it, lulling
you into a false sense of insecurity. But when the instruments start going,
and Black and the kids start doing their thang, the surrounds leap into action
and fill the room with the kind of rock n roll noise your parents undoubtedly
hated. The separation between the instruments is very well done, giving it an
authentic rock n roll show feel.
Director Richard Linklater and Jack Black provide an audio commentary for the
film, with Black doing his comedy thing and Linklater doing his best to keep
him in check. Equally good is the commentary by the kids in the film, who all
seem wise beyond their years, and are not as off-the-wall and annoying we expected
kids to be when left to do a commentary.
Lessons Learned in School of Rock is a 25-minute featurette that
focuses mostly on Black, and so manages to avoid the typical irritation present
with most promo featurettes. It doesnt have much to teach about the making-of
the film, but its entertaining nonetheless. Jack Blacks Pitch
to Led Zeppelin is exactly what it sounds like. Black and Linklater had
to convince the gents of Zeppelin to let them use Immigrant Song
in the movie, so they pitched it to them like a public service announcement,
and got it.
MTVs Diary of Jack Black is 16 minutes of watching Jack
Black do what Jack Black does, and if youre a fan of the man, youll
be a fan of the diary. The Kids Video Diary is shorter and
not as funny, but it shows a bit of their experiences at the Toronto Film Festival.
Finally, theres a music video and a bunch of trailers to round out the
School of Rock, from Paramount Home Entertainment
109 minutes, anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) 16x9 enhanced, Dolby Digital 5.1
Starring Jack Black, Joan Cusack, Mike White, Sarah Silverman
Produced by Scott Rudin
Written by Mike White, Directed by Richard Linklater
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