School of Life

Movie review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
School of Life Movie Poster Image
Dramedy about loss has positive messages, mature themes.
  • PG
  • 2002
  • 111 minutes

Parents say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 2 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

We don't have a lot of time, so take your shot when you have the chance, make each moment count, and do one thing every day that scares you. When someone gives you something, they give you a little part of themselves that can stay with you forever. If school is the Star Wars universe and students and teachers are Jedis, then the evil empire you must overcome is believing you have limitations. Courage and perseverance are important themes.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Mr. D is the teacher we all wish we had: funny, engaging, and creative. He really connects with his students and makes each one feel respected and important. He doesn't shy away from helping them with social skills and manages to correct students without humiliating them. He's also shown distributing blankets to the homeless on a rainy night. Mr. Warner is jealous of Mr. D and lacks creativity and engagement in the classroom. But he cares very much about his students and family and eventually finds his own reasons for teaching, lets go of his jealousy, and becomes a much-loved teacher. Mrs. Warner is a loving and supportive wife and mom who's shown once talking on her cell phone while driving. Dylan only thinks about how things affect him but starts to grow out of that. He learns to overcome his shyness and how to keep working at something until he succeeds.


A man collapses, speaks a few last words, and dies. There's no gore. One punch in the face. Spoiler alert: A major character has a terminal illness and dies.


Married adults kiss in bed while wearing pajamas. Two teachers and two tweens kiss briefly.


"Ass," "bastards," "piss off," "hell," "Christ," "jackass," "trample on your nuts." A car with "bitch boy" spray-painted on the side is prominent in a few scenes. The middle-finger gesture once; some body-part humor, such as a boy mimicking having breasts.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults have champagne; at night a teacher drinks from an indistinct bottle that could be beer or soda.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that School of Life is a made-for-TV movie with lots of positive messages about making the most of the time we have, taking chances, and having a lasting impact. Spoiler alert: It's a terminal-illness movie, and a major character dies. Neither death nor the illness are explored, but how to be a positive influence and appreciate what time we have together are important themes; a couple of scenes take place in a hospital, and the patient is briefly shown receiving chemotherapy. There's some strong language such as "ass" and "bitch." A student who stutters is frequently mocked by a classmate, but others defend him and teachers correct the bully.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Teen, 16 years old Written byWilly Bob January 28, 2020
Teen, 14 years old Written bymzvivace April 27, 2018

Heartwarming, Funny, and Touching

This is a great movie that you all should watch, and has a lot of positive messages and role models. It teaches you about living every moment to its fullest and... Continue reading

What's the story?

In SCHOOL OF LIFE, when new teacher Mr. D'Angelo (Ryan Reynolds) arrives at Fallbrook Middle School, his unorthodox and creative teaching style quickly make him a favorite of students and faculty alike -- except for Mr. Warner (David Paymer), who finally thought it was his year to win the coveted Teacher of the Year award. For Dylan Warner (Andrew Robb), it can be embarrassing enough to have your dad teach at your school, but when Mr. Warner's jealousy starts to drive him over the edge, Dylan's sure his chances with the girl he likes are over for good. Mr. Warner is determined to discover Mr. D's secret, but can he also find a better reason to teach than winning an award?

Is it any good?

This drama's heart is in the right place, and it offers a lot of positive messages, inspiring role models, and even a few laughs. (That is, for families with tweens and up who can handle the occasional strong language and themes involving loss.) Ryan Reynolds is affable and surprisingly understated but lacks real spark or genuine charm. School of Life offers some real, if small, laughs, but some of the dramatic aspects of the story feel forced. The made-for-TV production quality and supporting cast that doesn't quite find the spark add up to a movie that's overall enjoyable, if not nearly as life-changing as it wants to be. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what makes a good teacher. Who was the best teacher you've ever had? Was he or she like Mr. D. in School of Life?

  • Have you ever lost a loved one or someone who was important in your life? Do you try to keep their memory alive? How?

  • What did Mr. D mean about doing one thing each day that scares you? Why would that be good for you? Is there something you'd like to try? What?

  • How do the characters in School of Life demonstrate courage and perseverance? Why are these important character strength?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love school stories

Character Strengths

Find more movies that help kids build character.

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate