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SCHOOL OF ROCK ($30) is a charming and funny movie that doesnít fall into the trap of becoming sickeningly sweet due to its high "kid quotient." Sure, there are plenty of kids featured in prominent roles in SCHOOL OF ROCK; however, the movie is really a showcase for the musical and comedic talents of funnyman Jack Black. In SCHOOL OF ROCK, Black portrays Dewey Finn, a thirty-something year old musician who hasnít given up on his high school dream of becoming a rock star. Unemployed, and on the verge of being thrown out of his apartment by his roommate, Dewey impersonates said roommate to take a job as a substitute teacher at a private school. Only interested in making enough cash to pay his rent, Dewey is the worst teacher imaginable and allows the kids to slack off for the first few days.

Then, while his students are off in music class, Dewey has an epiphany. The sound of their playing inspires him to turn his classically trained students into a rock group, which will enable him to enter a local battle of the bands contest and walk off with the $20,000.00 prize. What follows is Deweyís transformation into a real teacher (of sorts), as he turns his classroom into a school of rock, where he instructs the kids in everything from how to properly play their instruments (with attitude), to classic rock music appreciation. Dewey lessons impart a great deal of self-confidence, which drives each of his students to excel in the areas where their natural talents lie. Sure, the plot of SCHOOL OF ROCK sounds perfectly corny, but the movie really works because of the enthusiasm that Jack Black brings the character and his obvious love for rock music. The cast of SCHOOL OF ROCK also features Joan Cusack, Mike White, Sarah Silverman, Joey Gaydos Jr., Miranda Cosgrove, Kevin Alexander Clark, Robert Tsai, Maryam Hassan and Rebecca Brown.

Paramount Home Entertainment has made SCHOOL OF ROCK available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. There is absolutely nothing to complain about in regards to the video transfer of SCHOOL OF ROCK. The image usually appears sharp and offers up good definition. An occasional shot comes off looking slightly soft, but it is related to the original photography and is not a flaw in the transfer. The colors are solid, stable and are rendered at a fairly natural level of saturation. Blacks are accurate, whites are clean and shadow detail is more than respectable. The film element used for the transfer is very clean and doesnít display any really appreciable grain. Digital compression artifacts are always well contained.

SCHOOL OF ROCK comes with a really good sounding Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Certainly not a showcase for split surround effects, the sound mix gets the job done and plays up the qualities of the numerous classic rock song contained on the track. The forward soundstage carries most of the load, with the rears adding ambient effects and musical fill. Fidelity is very good, and there is a tendency for the listener to want to crank up the volume on all of the classic rock tunes. The bass channel is very solid and helps the music along nicely. Dialogue is well recorded and always completely intelligible. An English Dolby Surround and French 5.1 channel tracks are also offered on the DVD, as are English subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplemental materials. SCHOOL OF ROCK features two separate running audio commentary tracks; the first is with director Richard Linklater and leading man Jack Black, while the second is a Kids Kommentary with the youthful performers from the film. Both commentaries have their entertainment value, but they will definitely appeal to viewers in different age groups- anyone over thirty will find the Jack Blackís comments the better bet.

Lessons Learned In School Of Rock runs nearly twenty-five minutes and proves to be a fairly solid behind-the-scenes program that goes above and beyond the typical PR puff piece that accompanies most movies. MTVís Diary Of Jack Black is a sixteen-minute program that follows the star during a day of the filmís production. Kids Video Diary: Toronto Film Festival is an eight-minute video that documents the filmís premiere. Jack Blackís Pitch To Led Zeppelin is an amusing three minutes video that was created to get the legendary bandís permission to use one of their songs in the movie. The School of Rock music video is also provided on the DVD, as is the filmís theatrical trailer, plus bonus trailers. DVD-ROM features include Dewey Finnís History Of Rock.

SCHOOL OF ROCK is a fun movie that Jack Black fans are certain to love. Paramountís wide screen DVD looks and sounds great, so if you live to rock and want to stick it to the man, you canít go wrong with this disc.



School of Rock (Widescreen Edition) (2003)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2004 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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