School of Rock
|School of Rock|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Richard Linklater|
|Produced by||Scott Rudin|
|Written by||Mike White|
Joey Gaydos Jr.
|Music by||Craig Wedren|
|Edited by||Sandra Adair|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||$131.3 million|
School of Rock is a 2003 American comedy film directed by Richard Linklater, written by Mike White, and starring Jack Black. The main plot follows struggling rock singer and guitarist, Dewey Finn (Black), who is kicked out of his band and subsequently disguises himself as a substitute teacher at a prestigious prep school. After witnessing the musical talent in his students in their music class, Dewey forms a band of fourth-graders to attempt to win the upcoming Battle of the Bands and pay off his rent. The film's supporting cast includes White, Joan Cusack, Sarah Silverman and Miranda Cosgrove.
School of Rock received highly positive reviews from critics and went on to gross over $131 million worldwide, making it the highest grossing musical comedy of all time, until it was overtaken in 2015 by Pitch Perfect 2. A stage musical adaptation opened on Broadway in December 2015, and a television adaptation for Nickelodeon premiered on March 12, 2016.
A rock band named "No Vacancy" performs at a nightclub. The on-stage antics of the band's lead guitarist, Dewey Finn, including a failed stage dive, prematurely end the performance. The next morning, Dewey wakes in the apartment he lives in with Ned Schneebly and his domineering girlfriend, Patty Di Marco. They inform Dewey he must make up for his share of the rent, which is four months overdue. When Dewey meets No Vacancy at a rehearsal session, he finds out that he has been sacked and replaced by another guitarist named Spider. Later, while attempting to sell some of his instruments for rent money, Dewey answers an urgent phone call from Principal Rosalie Mullins, the principal of the Horace Green prep school, inquiring for Ned about a short-term position as a substitute teacher. Upon being given details of the job and the payment, and desperate for money to avoid eviction from his home, Dewey impersonates Ned and is hired. On his first day at the school, Dewey adopts the name "Mr. S" and spends his first day behaving erratically, much to the confusion of the class. Class factotum Summer Hathaway complains about the lack of teaching while most of the class enjoy their all day recess.
The next day, Dewey overhears a music class and devises a plan to form them into a new band to compete against No Vacancy in a Battle of the Bands tournament. He casts shy Zack Mooneyham as lead guitarist, rebellious Freddy Jones as drummer, quiet cello player Katie on bass, self-conscious nerd Lawrence on keyboard and himself as lead vocalist and guitarist. He assigns the rest of the class to various roles of backup singers, groupies, roadies, with Summer as band manager. The project takes over normal lessons, but helps the students to embrace their talents and overcome their problems. Seemingly without realising it, Dewey becomes responsible for the students and acts as a positive role model. He reassures Lawrence, who is worried about not being cool enough for the band, Zack, whose overbearing father disapproves of rock, and Tomika, an overweight girl who is too self-conscious to even audition for backup singer despite an amazing voice. During one eloquent lesson, he teaches the kids that rock and roll is the way to "Stick it to the Man" and stand up for themselves. Band "groupies" Michelle and Eleni, with Summer's approval, pitch the band name "The School of Rock."
Dewey sneaks his key band members out of school to audition for a spot in the competition, while the rest of the class stay behind to maintain cover. When Freddy wanders off with a rock band, an angry Dewey retrieves him but the group is rejected because the bill was overbooked. Summer leads the band to fake a made-up terminal illness called "Stick-it-to-da-man-niosis," and the kids are allowed in the contest. The next day, Dewey is almost exposed when Principal Mullins decides to check on his teaching progress, forcing him to teach the real material (but in singsong when she notices his guitar). Dewey befriends Principal Mullins, who he learns was once fun-loving and free-spirited, but the pressure of being principal and the expectations of the parents turned her into her current self, someone who she never wanted to be, and in her words, "a bitch". While freaking out about Parent's Night, the night before Battle of the Bands, Principal Mullins asks Dewey to accompany her.
As Dewey prepares for Parent's Night, Ned receives a paycheck from the school via mail. A desperate Dewey confesses everything and pleads Ned to keep the secret until Battle of the Bands is over. Dewey flounders his way through Parent's Night, but Patty, who extracted the truth from Ned, calls the police on him. Ned, Patty, and the police confront Dewey in front of all the parents, with Mullins bursting in to question what is going on. Dewey reveals his true identity, admitting he is not a licensed teacher and is fired. Back home, Dewey and Patty argue. Ned intervenes, but makes it clear that Dewey should move out.
The next morning, the kids discuss what has happened, and it becomes clear that the students, especially Lawrence and Tomika, have been changed by their experience and miss Mr. S. Vowing not let their hard work go to waste, the kids pick Dewey up in their school bus and attend the competition. Seeing this, Ned decides to finally stand up to Patty and attend the Battle of the Bands concert. When the new substitute realises that the kids are missing, she informs Mullins, and Mullins and the parents race to the competition. Touched by the kids' loyalty to him, Dewey leads them to the Battle of the Bands and decides that they play the song written by Zack earlier in the film. Initially dismissed as a gimmick, the band wins over the entire crowd.
While No Vacancy wins, Dewey is dejected, but the kids convince him that sticking it to the man was more important - they did their best and play a great set. Many people backstage express their amazement at the kids' performance, including several music producers and fellow bands. Meanwhile the audience, led by Ned, Mullins and the parents, lead a great chant for School of Rock and demand an encore. Re-energised, Dewey leads the entire class on stage for an encore of It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll).
During the closing credits, it is revealed that Dewey and Ned open an After School class in their apartment where Ned teaches kids basic guitar and Dewey continues with the band.
- Jack Black as Dewey Finn (lead singer, guitar)
- Joan Cusack as Principal Rosalie "Roz" Mullins
- Mike White as Ned Schneebly
- Sarah Silverman as Patty Di Marco
- Miranda Cosgrove as Summer "Tinkerbell" Hathaway (band manager)
- Joey Gaydos Jr. as Zack "Zack-Attack" Mooneyham (lead guitar)
- Kevin Clark as Freddy "Spazzy McGee" Jones (drums)
- Rebecca Brown as Katie "Posh Spice" (bass)
- Robert Tsai as Lawrence "Mr. Cool" (keyboards)
- Maryam Hassan as Tomika "Turkey Sub" (second voice, lead choir)
- Caitlin Hale as Marta "Blondie" (choir)
- Aleisha Allen as Alicia "Brace Face" (choir)
- Brian Falduto as Billy "Fancy Pants" (stylist)
- Zachary Infante as Gordon "Roadrunner" (assistant, lights)
- James Hosey as Marco "Carrot Top" (assistant, special effects)
- Angelo Massagli as Frankie "Tough Guy" (security)
- Cole Hawkins as Leonard "Short Stop" (security)
- Jordan-Claire Green as Michelle (groupie)
- Veronica Afflerbach as Eleni (groupie)
- Adam Pascal as Theo
- Lucas Babin as Spider
- Lucas Papaelias as Neil
- Shawn Rodney as Shawn
Screenwriter Mike White's concept for the film was inspired by the Langley Schools Music Project. A stage dive gone wrong incident involving Ian Astbury of rock band The Cult was witnessed by Jack Black, and was used as inspiration for a scene in School of Rock, in which the character Dewey Finn stage dives and hits the floor; "I went to see a reunion, in Los Angeles, of The Cult; they were playing and Ian Astbury, the lead singer, took a dive. It was at The Viper Room, and it was just a bunch of jaded Los Angelinos out there, and they didn't catch him and he plummeted straight to the ground. Later I thought it was so hilarious. So that was put into the script." Many scenes from the movie were shot around the New York City area. The school portrayed in School of Rock is actually Main Hall at Wagner College in Staten Island, New York. In the commentary, the kids say that all of the hallway scenes were shot in one hallway. One of the theaters used in many of the shots was at Union County Performing Arts Center located in Rahway, New Jersey.
A soundtrack album of the same name was released on September 30, 2003. The film's director, Richard Linklater, scouted the country for talented 13-year-old musicians to play the rock and roll music that features on the soundtrack and in the film. The soundtrack includes "Immigrant Song" by Led Zeppelin, a band that has rarely granted permission for use of their songs in film and television. Richard Linklater came up with the idea to shoot a video on the stage used at the end of the film, with Jack Black begging the band for permission with the crowd extras cheering and chanting behind him. The video was sent directly to the living members of Led Zeppelin, and permission was granted for the song. The video is included on the DVD.
Songs featured in the film
* Featured on the Soundtrack album
School of Rock received a "Certified Fresh" rating of 92% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 192 reviews with an average rating of 7.8/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Black's exuberant, gleeful performance turns School of Rock into a hilarious, rocking good time." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 82 out of 100, based on 41 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".
Box office performance
School of Rock opened at #1 with a weekend gross of $19,622,714 from 2,614 theaters for an average of $7,507 per venue. In its second weekend, the film declined just 21 percent, earning another $15,487,832 after expanding to 2,929 theaters, averaging $5,288 per venue, and bringing the 10-day gross to $39,671,396. In its third weekend, it dropped only 28 percent, making another $11,006,233 after expanding once again to 2,951 theaters, averaging $3,730 per venue, and bringing the 17-day gross to $54,898,025. It spent a total of six weeks among the Top 10 films and eventually grossed $81,261,177 in the United States and Canada and another $50,015,772 in international territories for a total gross of $131,282,949 worldwide, almost four times its budget of $35 million. This made School of Rock the highest-grossing musical comedy of all time, until it was overtaken in 2015 by Pitch Perfect 2.
Awards and nominations
The film was nominated for several awards, including Black receiving a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor – Comedy or Musical (which he lost to Bill Murray for Lost in Translation), and winning an MTV Movie Award for Best Comedic Performance.
In 2008, Jack Black said that a sequel was being considered. It was later reported that director Richard Linklater and producer Scott Rudin would return. Mike White was returning as screenwriter, titled School of Rock 2: America Rocks, which picks up with Finn leading a group of summer school students on a cross-country field trip that delves into the history of rock 'n' roll. In 2012, Black stated that he believed the sequel was unlikely. "I tried really hard to get all the pieces together," he said. "I wouldn't want to do it without the original writer and director, and we never all got together and saw eye-to-eye on what the script would be. It was not meant to be, unfortunately," but added, "never say never".
On April 5, 2013, Andrew Lloyd Webber announced that he has bought the rights to School of Rock to a stage musical. On December 18, 2014, the musical was officially confirmed and it was announced that the show would receive its world premiere on Broadway in autumn 2015, at the Winter Garden Theatre. The musical has a book by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes. and is directed by Laurence Connor, with choreography by JoAnn M. Hunter, set and costume design by Anna Louizos and lighting by Natasha Katz. The musical features an original score composed by Lloyd Webber, with lyrics by Glenn Slater and sound design by Mick Potter, in addition to music from the original film. School of Rock will be Lloyd Webber's first show opening on Broadway before London since Jesus Christ Superstar in 1971.
On August 29, 2013, a 10-year anniversary screening of the film was held in Austin, Texas at The Paramount Theatre. Those in attendance included director Richard Linklater, Jack Black, Mike White, Miranda Cosgrove and the rest of the young cast members except for Cole Hawkins (who played Leonard). The event, hosted by The Austin Film Society and Cirrus Logic, included a red carpet, a full cast and crew Q&A after the screening, where the now-grown child stars discussed their current pursuits in life, and a VIP after-party performance by the School of Rock band during which "School of Rock" and "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll)" were played.
On August 4, 2014, Nickelodeon announced that they were working with Paramount Television on a television show adaptation of the movie. Production started in the fall and the series premiered in 2016. It stars Ricardo Hurtado, Lance Lim, Aidan Miner, Jade Pettyjohn, Breanna Yde and Tony Cavalero.
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