School of Rock

 
Standout Jack Black in nerds-become-cool comedy.
  • Review Date: May 3, 2004
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2003
  • Running Time: 108 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Hard work, practice, and dedication are a huge part of any success. It's important for kids to follow their dreams and to apply their talents to their fullest potential. An emphasis on finding your passion and giving it your all. Also, in a comedic manner, the roles of different instruments are discussed, and the film does touch on the work and practice required to be in a successful band. Dewey gives a body-positive pep talk to a girl who's feeling embarrassed about her weight.

Positive role models

Dewey starts out as a slacker and misleads others for his own gain. But as the movie progresses, he finds real joy in working with kids and finds ways to be supportive and inspiring to them, and he's ultimately selfless.

Violence

Early in the film, a character dives off a stage. No one catches him and he lands on his face. 

Sex

Nothing at all, though one girl says groupies are "sluts."

Language

Occasional profanity: "ass," "s--t," "pissed." A 10-year-old uses the word "stupid-ass." Early in the film, the main character uses an obscene gesture, sort of. A child talks about "sluts" briefly.

 

Consumerism

Band stickers are pretty much everywhere.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

As some of the film is set in rock clubs, characters hold beers and cigarettes. During one scene, Dewey has a beer with the principal of the school. The principal starts to act tipsy, but that could just as easily be the effect the Stevie Nicks song on the jukebox has on her. 
 

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that School of Rock is as much a vehicle for Jack Black to make rock 'n' roll faces while playing guitar as it is hilarious fun for musicians and music fans of all ages -- even younger than the PG-13 rating would suggest. There is occasional profanity -- some of it spoken by 10-year-olds -- and Black's character freely discusses his hangovers with the class he's teaching. There are brief shots of adult characters drinking and smoking (this is about playing rock 'n' roll, after all), but nothing terribly gratuitous. Beyond this, School of Rock is an enjoyable way for kids to learn about music, and for families to talk about the amount of work and personal satisfaction that results in starting a band. Furthermore, the film addresses body issues in a positive way when one of the girls in class is afraid to sing because she thinks she's "too fat." 

What's the story?

Jack Black plays Dewey Finn, a musician who doesn't just live for rock -- he barely acknowledges that there is anything else. Like the music he loves, Dewey is loud, immature, messy, self-absorbed, passionate, incapable of complying with any authority, rule, or attempt at civilization, and just about irresistible. So he is astonished when he is fired by his band. And when his best friend Ned (screenwriter Mike White), a former rocker-turned-substitute teacher, says he will have to move out if he does not start paying rent. When Dewey intercepts a call from Principal Mullins (Joan Cusack) offering Ned a substitute teacher position for fifth graders at a posh prep school, he accepts and shows up pretending to be Ned. The kids and Dewey learn something new through the experience.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

If there was ever someone born to portray the true spirit of rock 'n' roll, it's Jack Black. That is what SCHOOL OF ROCK needed, and that is just what he does.

This is by far the most accessible and conventional film from director Richard Linklater (Waking Life, Dazed and Confused) and White (Chuck and Buck, The Good Girl), neither of whom are known for heartwarming, feel-good movies. But that is what this is, a sort of To Sir With Love crossed with This is Spinal Tap. Black is enormously entertaining and the kids are terrific.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how much Dewey loves rock 'n' roll. Why is it so important to him? What does it allow him to express? 

  • How does School of Rock compare with other movies you've seen about starting or performing in a band? 

  • What's the most important thing Dewy learns from the kids, and what is the most important thing they learn from him?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 3, 2003
DVD release date:March 2, 2004
Cast:Jack Black, Joan Cusack, Mike White
Director:Richard Linklater
Studio:Paramount Pictures
Genre:Comedy
Topics:Arts and dance, Misfits and underdogs, Music and sing-along
Run time:108 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:some rude humor and drug references

This review of School of Rock was written by

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 11 years old September 21, 2010
age 11+
 
awesome movie!!!!
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 13 years old Written byAli J March 6, 2011
age 10+
 

Hilarious movie for pre teens!

What other families should know
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent of a 10 and 12 year old Written byPAFC June 3, 2010
age 8+
 

One of Jack Black's best unoffensive efforts; great music, fun rock references

Our family loved this movie. While the language is a little strong, compared to other movies that are rated the same, it is relatively mild. If your children like rock, it is a lot of fun. If you are a family who tolerates no swearing whatsoever, or if "kick some ass" would shock or offend you, then it's not for you. The overall message is that uptight kids use their skills to create a rock show, a slacker finds a calling and realizes what is really important in life, and forgiveness abounds.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Great messages
Great role models

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