School of Rock

Critics Consensus

Black's exuberant, gleeful performance turns School of Rock into a hilarious, rocking good time.



Total Count: 196


Audience Score

User Ratings: 32,784,354
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Movie Info

The world's least-employable heavy metal guitarist is entrusted with the minds of upstate New York's best and brightest in this fish-out-of-water comedy. Jack Black plays Dewey Finn, axe-bearer for a fitfully successful bar band determined to win a regional battle-of-the-bands competition. There's only one thing standing in their way: the self-indulgent solos and crowd-diving antics of their "embarrassing" lead guitarist. When his band votes him out in favor of a would-be rock god, Dewey has to make the rent somehow, and after intercepting a call for his substitute-teacher roomie Ned (Mike White), the pot-bellied slacker finds himself in front of a class of elite elementary school students. At a loss for a lesson plan, Dewey takes offense at the pre-teen prodigies' staid musical regimen and makes it his goal to preach them the gospel of The Who, Led Zeppelin, and AC/DC -- with the ulterior motive of getting them to compete against his former band for a cash prize. But no matter how willing his pupils, Dewey runs up against the consternation of the school's stern headmistress Principal Mullins (Joan Cusack), the battle-of-the-bands' promoter (Frank Whaley), and not least, his identity-deprived roomie Ned. ~ Michael Hastings, Rovi

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Jack Black
as Dewey Finn
Mike White
as Ned Schneebly
Joan Cusack
as Rosalie Mullins
Sarah Silverman
as Patty Di Marco
Miranda Cosgrove
as Summer Hathaway
Robert Tsai
as Lawrence
Cole Hawkins
as Leonard
Suzzanne Douglas
as Tomika's Mother
Eron Otcasek
as Musician
Kimberly Grigsby
as Mrs. Sheinkopf
Lee Wilkof
as Mr. Green
Wally Dunn
as Gym Teacher
Tim Hopper
as Zack's Father
Scott Graham
as Punk Rock Guy
Sharon Washington
as Alicia's Mother
Kim Brockington
as Leonard's Mother
Marty Murphy
as Concerned Father
Kathleen McNenny
as Freddy's Mother
Joanna Adler
as Summer's Mother
Robert Lin
as Lawrence's Father
Macintyre Dixon
as Bus Driver
Amy Sedaris
as Mrs. Haynish
Mary A. Fortune
as Teacher's Assistant
Mandy Siegfried
as Female Employee
Elisa Pugliese
as Concert Goer
Carlos J. Da Silva
as Security Guard
Ian O'Malley
as Radio Exec
Chris Line
as Radio DJ
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Critic Reviews for School of Rock

All Critics (196) | Top Critics (43) | Fresh (179) | Rotten (17)

Audience Reviews for School of Rock

  • Apr 26, 2014
    "We don't need no education, we don't need no thought control!" I know that's the tagline of the film, but seriously, it's just too hard to not think of that when thinking of this film, even though Pink Floyd's earlier, more abstract tracks fit Richard Linklater's filmmaking tastes at this time more. Ah, yes, ladies and gentlemen, from the mind of "Slacker", "Before Sunrise", "Waking Life" and "Tape" comes yet another artistic triumph in filmmaking, a study on the flaws of a rock star's life and of university-preparatory education, starring acclaimed thespian Jack Black. This may have come out about two years after "Waking Life" and "Tape", but it's still weird how big of a transition Linklater made, not from art drama to commercial comedy, but to something actually entertaining. Hey, people, I can kind of respect Linklater for trying to get all philosophical and stuff, but sometimes the only serious you need is a serious dose of Jack Black, and if you think that makes me sound like a philistine or something, maybe you should look up Linklater on Rotten Tomatoes, because plenty seem to prefer all of this fluff to Linklater's abuse of artistic license, ostensibly because you can at least give this film credit for not being pretentious. It's so what you'd expect that it stars Jack Black as a deadbeat wannabe rocker, naturally, although, the casting is otherwise not that great, because even though Black isn't great-looking, even a pseudo-rocker ought to be able to flirt with a chick better than Joan Cusack, if you want to call her a chick. According to this film, rock star stereotypes as well as non-public education systems can betray you, but that's not to say that the film lets you down when it comes to entertainment, despite issues extending beyond the cast (Seriously, Jack, I've seen worse-looking rockers get much better-looking women). A comedy that is, of course, of limited meat, this film surely tries patience as it finds itself flirting with a two-hour runtime, or at least seems to, due to many scenes of filler, if not material, running together, until the film becomes rather aimless, with a certain blandness that the final product probably shouldn't have, even with a director who is well-known for subdued momentum. With this film, Richard Linklater certainly ups the pacing and tries not to take things as seriously as he has in previous films, including less commercial comedic ones, resulting in a pretty entertaining pace, until Linklater lightens up atmosphere a touch too much, slowing down a sense of fun that is often compensates for a little too much at times by noisy comic set pieces that are more obnoxious than anything. The film has difficulty in deciding whether it should be more relaxed as a comedy or boisterous, and yet, its narrative is rarely less than a little over the top, following an improbable story that, while fun, is a little too hard to buy at times, possibly because of Linklater's sometimes taking the project a smidge too seriously. The film isn't quite absurdist enough for you to run with the questionable narrative elements in their context, and it's not like it's any easier to get invested in a problematic lead with problematic intentions, for although this is ultimately a film about redemption and liberation more than rebellion, the immaturity of Jack Black's Dewey Flinn character and the overt deconstruction of education sticks around a little too long for you to not feel a little uncomfortable, even though it's not too difficult to predict where things are heading. As much as I point out the film's at least trying hard at keeping fluffy, there's plenty of effort backing the feel of this respectably done comedy, and that makes it all the more frustrating when it devolves into conventions, being not too much more than something of a garden variety comedy of its type with a trope-heavy narrative, and even a little tonal familiarity that further laze out the momentum of a film that, really, should never be taken too seriously. Despite his best efforts, Linklater is handed a fluffy project, and there's only so much material to work with when it comes to films like that, and it's harder to deny that the more Linklater tries to give this effort the feel of a less inconsequential flick. I don't suppose the final product ever stood a chance of rewarding all that thoroughly, but for what it is, it does try harder than other comedies of its nature as a fun affair and portrait on rocking, complete with a quality soundtrack. Trying to keep a lighter atmosphere than other comedies like it, the film doesn't utilize much in the way of musical liveliness, but when it does, it delivers on plenty classic and not too clichéd tunes that range from AC/DC and The Ramones to Led Zeppelin, entertain, and compliment the edgy feel of the comedy, and even on delightful original performances, anchored by Jack Black's passionate vocals and enthusiastic energy, and highlighted by a killer final live performance of the titular song that stands as a substantial payoff. Richard Linklater has a playful side as a director that, when showcased, proves to be pretty fun, although that's not to say that Linklater doesn't entertain consistently, as his less frantic approach to storytelling, while not exactly compatible with somewhat absurdist subject matter, keeps a controlled pace that sort of allows you to take the film reasonably seriously, as though it's not talking down to commercial audiences who can, through the more subdued feel can embrace the story, at least up to a point. This story of some bum impersonating his sub teacher roommate and secretly training students to learn the art of hard rock is improbable, maybe a little unnerving to those sensitive to unlikable characters with problematic goals, and it isn't even as unique as it probably should be, but it sure is interesting as a fluffy, if shallow narrative with fun potential that Linklater handles with a sense of realization, much like Mike White. White's script is barely anything new, and it's certainly a little uneven in pace, if not tone, but its material is tight enough to keep momentum slick, despite Linklater's steadiness, and its humor is certainly sharp, alternating between wit and sheer color smoothly enough to feel smarter than you might expect when looking at its absurdities, and about as much fun as you might hope. I mean, it's still difficult to make much out of this film of limited consequence, but White's script remains sharp enough to hold your interest, without the impact of Linklater's tight storytelling, and quite the talented cast of charmers. What it ultimately comes down to is the sharpness of the cast working with sharp material, and sure enough, just about everyone delivers, and that particularly goes for the youths, whose distinguished charm and sense of evolution from awkwardness to coolness is about as much of treat to be exposed to as leading man Jack Black's formulaic and slightly obnoxious, but consistently colorful performance which carries the film almost as much as Black's chemistry with his young peers. The real delight in this film is watching the interactions between Black and the students' promising portrayers, but the fun doesn't quite end there, because even though this isn't quite the heavy stuff that one might be used to with Linklater, entertainment value and a sense of wit stand firm enough to make the final product a perfectly decent and memorable one, at least about as much as it can be. At the end of class, the film fails to keep tight, consistent, probable, original and altogether heavy enough to exceed the underwhelmingness that it tries to transcend through a soundtrack that is killer enough, direction that is realized enough, a script that is sharp enough, and a cast that is colorful enough to make "School of Rock" a plenty entertaining and often reasonably respectable, commercial comedy twist for Richard Linklater. 2.5/5 - Fair
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Aug 17, 2013
    It's not that it's a bad film, because it's not. It's just Jack Black's ultimate posterized film to act a little looney and over the top like he usually wants to do. Truthfully, there's a lot to be taken away from this movie. The implementation of classic rock and roll was entertaining enough, and the actors werent really half bad, not even the child actors. The story was all too typical though, and you dont really feel sorry for Dewey throughout the film even though he gets a pass in the end as usual. All in all, this was better than what it should have amounted to.
    Jackson W Super Reviewer
  • Sep 14, 2012
    Great humor and rockin' story (had to do it, I'm sorry). Jack Black usually annoys me but that is not the case here. I feel like this was the film he was born to star in. "School of Rock" is a near perfect comedy and should be watched by anyone who loves great humor and/or rock music. I also love Joan Cusack in this.
    Eric S Super Reviewer
  • May 03, 2012
    Good movie, but it doesn't live up to the hype. Jack Black puts all of his usual humor into this movie, which was a good thing, but I thought he was doing too much in this film. A little overrated and overacted, but it's fun for family and kids to watch. The soundtrack was astonishing, and it will get kids to learn a little bit about rock music. It was funny but not too much. So I pretty much quite liked it, but I wouldn't call this the best comedy movie ever, based on the tomatometer.
    Giovanni C Super Reviewer

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