Rock School

Movie review by
Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
Rock School Movie Poster Image
Engaging documentary rated R because of language.
  • R
  • 2005
  • 93 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The Rock School teacher is obnxious and yells at students; a couple of students argue back.


Rock music lyrics refer to sexuality.


Lots of strong language -- countless f-words.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the movie's teacher, Paul Green, and some of his teenaged students use frequent curse words (including various forms of "f--k"). While most of the students and their parents here commend Green's approach, one former student notes that the criticisms and jokes at his expense are harsh. One young student suffers from a bone disorder, appearing on stage post-surgery, playing his guitar while seated.

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What's the story?

Since 1998, Paul Green has run his own school of rock music, teaching students to play serious rock, from Black Sabbath to Carlos Santana to Frank Zappa The film includes lively interviews with Green's students and their parents -- including Quaker Madi Diaz-Svalgard, nine-year-old twins Asa and Tucker Collins (whose mother is a self-admitted wannabe rock star who helps them get ready for performances by limiting the emblems they might wear: Mohawk okay, but no "666" temporary tattoos), and guitar prodigy C.J. Tywoniak, who offers up a terrific version of "Black Magic Woman." One former student, Will, describes his own experiences with Green, who invited him to be a student even though he calls Will "a piss-poor musician." Articulate and self-aware, Will is also clinically depressed; a Philadelphia Inquirer article calls him "the sad Eeyore of rock school," a line that understandably annoys Will and inspires Green to make more jokes at his expense. The film ends when the students perform at an international Zappa festival in East Germany, on stage with former Zappa vocalist Napoleon Murphy Brock.

Is it any good?

A documentary about school doesn't sound like much fun, but Don Argott's ROCK SCHOOL is by turns boisterous, charming, and surprising. Focused on founder and teacher of the school, the movie shows Green to be bigheaded and foul-mouthed, the ideal star of his own show. "My ego," Green pronounces, "is as big as the whole universe. I invented something so I could be the best at it."

For all his obnoxiousness, Green is an effective instructor for many of his students. He is also always performing -- for Argott's camera, for his students and their parents, for himself. This makes him a fascinating character, a mix of arrogance and insecurity, generosity and narcissism. And in the end, he reveals himself to be a compassionate character despite his aggressive teaching style.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Green's very lively, alternately funny and severe methods of instruction. Is learning harder or do you feel more motivated when a teacher yells at you? How are you helped by supportive parents and friends when you learn a difficult skill?

Movie details

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