School of Rock

Year: 2003
Director: Richard Linklater
Cast: Jack Black, Joan Cusack
Almost by definition, any movie with kids in it is a kids movie. It was huge surprise to see one of the most insightful of indie directors, Richard Linklater, doing what looked like a Hillary Duff tween comedy.

And without Jack Black, that's just what it would be. Large swathes of kid-movie morals and character arcs (loser who wouldn't give a kid the time of day until he learns to love them, etc, etc) make up much of the story, but Black is genuinely funny, his energy transcending the PG rated jokes and premise.

He plays a loser in a band who, through the hand of fate, poses as his nerdy, put-upon flatmate in order to get some money as a teacher's substitute. Naturally he just wants to goof off, but hears the kids in his class in music practice and hatches a scheme to mould them into a rock band in order to win a big Battle of the Bands contest.

Just as naturally, he learns along the way to love them for who they are and their talents, and unleashes the creativity within them all, etc, etc.

Almost too cutesy to be enjoyable, and it's easy to believe it was a fairly nothing young teen version of Dead Poets Society and Dangerous Minds until Linklater and Black signed on.

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