Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000 to 2009.
Bands rarely earn encores anymore. They’ll come out for one more even if the preceding 90 minutes sounded no better than the cries of a dying cat.
2003’s School of Rock earned every laugh and, yes, tear that it drew. It looked like the same gooey candy about a shifty guy whose heart is warmed to a new worldview by a bunch of cute kids. But star Jack Black, writer / co-star Mike White and director Richard Linklater subversively smeared that candy all over their faces.
Riotously funny, moving and deftly mainstream without falling into clichéd pitfalls, it was obvious material made surprising by smart filmmaking choices.
Black is Dewey Finn, a washed-up musician who impersonates his student-teacher roommate. Fronting a class at a posh private school, Dewey instructs these kids in rock ‘n’ roll to win a $20,000 battle of the bands using the kids’ talents.
The movie captures rock ‘n’ roll’s wonderful allure as well as, if not better than, Almost Famous. It’s on the kids’ faces as they listen to “homework assignments” such as Led Zeppelin and Yes, and when they walk in to behold the expanse of the climactic concert venue.
Meanwhile, Black subtly finds that Dewey has lost touch with rock ‘n’ roll as well, and the reciprocal help he gets from the kids is never sentimental and always true. Black doesn’t overdo it here, never crowding out the kids and leaving room for a supporting turn from Joan Cusack as a disapproving principal with surprising depth.