School of Rock
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|School of Rock|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Richard Linklater|
|Produced by||Scott Rudin|
|Written by||Mike White|
|Music by||Craig Wedren|
|Edited by||Sandra Adair|
Scott Rudin Productions
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||$131.3 million|
School of Rock is a 2003 musical comedy film directed by Richard Linklater, produced by Scott Rudin, and written by Mike White. The film stars Jack Black, Joan Cusack, Mike White, Sarah Silverman, and Miranda Cosgrove. Black plays struggling rock guitarist Dewey Finn, 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 of his students, Dewey forms a band of fifth-graders to attempt to win the upcoming Battle of the Bands and pay off his rent.
School of Rock was released on October 3, 2003, by Paramount Pictures, grossing $131 million worldwide on a $35 million budget. The film received positive reviews from critics, with praise for Black's performance and humor. It was the highest grossing music-themed 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.
Rock band No Vacancy performs at a nightclub three weeks before auditioning for a Battle of the Bands competition. Guitarist Dewey Finn engages in on-stage antics, including a failed stage dive that abruptly ends the performance. The next morning, Dewey wakes up in the apartment he lives in with his friend, Ned Schneebly, and Ned's girlfriend, Patty Di Marco. They inform Dewey that he is overdue on his share of the rent, and that he must make up for it within one week or move out. When Dewey meets No Vacancy at a rehearsal session, he finds out that he has been replaced by another guitarist named Spider. Later, while attempting to sell some of his equipment for rent money, Dewey answers a phone call from Rosalie Mullins, the principal of the Horace Green prep school, inquiring for Ned about a short-term position as a substitute teacher. Desperate for his rent money, Dewey impersonates Ned and gets the position. On his first day at school, "Mr. S" (the name Dewey adopts when realizing he doesn't know how to spell Schneebly) behaves erratically, much to the class' confusion.
The next day, Dewey overhears the students playing their instruments in music class and devises a plan to form them into a new band to audition for Battle of the Bands. He casts classical guitarist Zack Mooneyham as lead guitarist, percussionist Freddy Jones as drummer, cellist Katie on bass, pianist 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 Hathaway as band manager. The project replaces normal lessons, but helps the students to embrace their talents and gain confidence. He reassures Lawrence, who is worried about not being cool enough for the band; Zack, whose father personally disapproves of rock music; and Tamika, an overweight girl who is too self-conscious to audition for backup singer despite having a powerful singing voice. During one eloquent lesson, Dewey 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 Elani, with Summer's approval, pitch the band name "The School of Rock."
Two weeks into his hiring, Dewey sneaks some of his students 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, Dewey retrieves him, but the group is rejected because the bill is full. After Summer tricks the staff into thinking that the students all have a terminal illness, the band is added to the bill. The next day, Mullins decides to check on Dewey's teaching progress, forcing Dewey to teach the actual material. Mullins explains that a parents' night will take place at the school the day before Battle of the Bands.
While Dewey prepares for the parents' night, Ned receives a paycheck from the school via mail, and eventually learns of Dewey's treachery. During the parents' meeting, the parents inquire about what Dewey was teaching the kids, so he explains to the parents as best he can. The meeting is halted when Ned, Patty, Mullins and the police arrive. Dewey then reveals his real name, admits he's not a licensed teacher and abruptly leaves after the parents misinterpret his statement about “touching” the kids and being "touched" by them. Back at the apartment, Dewey and Patty clash, while Ned intervenes and informs Dewey that he should move out.
The next morning, the parents cause an uproar in front of Mullins at her office, while the kids decide not to let their hard work go to waste. When the new substitute discovers that the kids are missing, she informs Mullins, and Mullins and the parents race to the competition. Fed up of being constantly bulldozed around by Patty, Ned finally stands up for himself by breaking up with her and leaves to see the band perform. A school bus comes to pick up Dewey, who leads the kids to the Battle of the Bands, and decides that they should play a song written by Zack. Initially dismissed as a gimmick, the band wins over the entire crowd. Much to Dewey's dismay, No Vacancy wins, but the audience chant for School of Rock and demand an encore. Mullins and the parents, while upset at the deception, admit to being impressed by the children's talent and confidence on stage.
Some time later, an after-school program known as the School of Rock has opened as Dewey continues to coach the students he played with before, while Ned teaches beginners.
- Jack Black as Dewey Finn (lead and backing vocals, rhythm guitar) an energetic, down-on-his-luck guitarist slacker
- Joan Cusack as Principal Rosalie "Roz" Mullins
- Mike White as Ned Schneebly, Dewey's responsible but submissive roommate and best friend
- Sarah Silverman as Patty Di Marco, Ned's domineering girlfriend
- Miranda Cosgrove as Summer "Tinkerbell" Hathaway (band manager), the class factotum
- Joey Gaydos Jr. as Zack "Zack-Attack" Mooneyham (lead guitar)
- Kevin Clark as Freddy "Spazzy McGee" Jones (drums)
- Rivkah Reyes as Katie "Posh Spice" (bass) (credited at the time as Rebecca Brown)
- Robert Tsai as Lawrence "Mr. Cool" (keyboards)
- Maryam Hassan as Tamika "Turkey Sub" (lead and backing vocals)
- Aleisha Allen as Alicia "Brace Face" (lead and backing vocals)
- Caitlin Hale as Marta "Blondie" (lead and backing vocals)
- Brian Falduto as Billy "Fancy Pants" (band 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 (lead singer, guitar)
- Lucas Babin as Spider (lead guitar)
- Lucas Papaelias as Neil (bass)
- Frank Whaley as Battle of the Bands Director (uncredited)
Screenwriter Mike White's concept for the film was inspired by the Langley Schools Music Project. Jack Black once witnessed a stage dive gone wrong involving Ian Astbury of rock band The Cult, which made its way into the film. 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 DVD 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.
The eponymous album was released on September 30, 2003. Sammy James Jr. of the band The Mooney Suzuki penned the title track with screenwriter Mike White, and the band backed up Jack Black and the child musicians on the soundtrack recording of the song. The film's director, Richard Linklater, scouted the country for talented 13-year-old musicians to play the rock and roll music featured on the soundtrack and in the film. The soundtrack includes "Immigrant Song" by Led Zeppelin, a band that has a very long history of denying permission for use of their songs in film and television. Linklater came up with the idea to shoot a video on the stage used at the end of the film, in which Jack Black begs 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 (Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones), who granted permission for the song. The video is included on the DVD.
Songs featured in the film
- "For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)" by AC/DC (Dewey uses the lyrics in a speech to the class)
- "Fight for Your Love" by No Vacancy*
- "Stay Free" by The Clash
- "Touch Me" by The Doors (Dewey sings this to Lawrence)*
- "Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio?" Ramones cover by Kiss
- "Sunshine of Your Love" by Cream*
- "Back in Black" by AC/DC
- Guitar riffs Dewey plays to Zack:
- "Substitute" by The Who*
- "Greatest Love of All" by George Benson (Dewey mentions the lyrics as his reason for no testing)
- "Roadrunner" by The Modern Lovers
- "My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down (Bonzo Goes to Bitburg)" by Ramones*
- "The Wait (Killing Joke cover)" by Metallica
- "In the Ancient Times" by School of Rock
- "Sad Wings" by Brand New Sin
- "Mouthful of Love" by Young Heart Attack
- "Black Shuck" by The Darkness
- "Immigrant Song" by Led Zeppelin*
- "Set You Free" by The Black Keys*
- "Edge of Seventeen" by Stevie Nicks*
- "Ballrooms of Mars" by T. Rex*
- "Moonage Daydream" by David Bowie
- "TV Eye" by The Stooges*
- "Ride into the Sun" by The Velvet Underground
- "Heal Me, I'm Heartsick" by No Vacancy*
- "School of Rock" by School of Rock*
- "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll)" by School of Rock* (featuring The Mooney Suzuki)
- "Math Is a Wonderful Thing" by Jack Black and Mike White*
* Featured on the Soundtrack album
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 music-themed comedy of all time, until it was overtaken in 2015 by Pitch Perfect 2.
School of Rock received an approval rating of 91% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 199 reviews with an average rating of 7.73/10. 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".
Awards and nominations
The film was nominated for several awards, including Black receiving a Golden Globe Award 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 2004 the film won Best Comedy Film at the British Comedy Awards.
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 for the sequel, 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, saying, "I tried really hard to get all the pieces together. 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 had bought the rights to School of Rock for 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. It ultimately began previews on November 9, 2015, and opened on December 6, 2015. 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 became Lloyd Webber's first show opening on Broadway before London since Jesus Christ Superstar in 1971. The stage adaptation eventually closed on January 20, 2019, having grossed $160,145,109 over the course of 1,309 performances.
On August 29, 2013, a 10th 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", "The Legend of The Rent", "Step Off" and "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll)" were played.
On August 4, 2014, Nickelodeon announced that it was working with Paramount Television to develop a television show adaptation of the film. Production started in the fall and the series premiered in 2016. It starred Breanna Yde, Ricardo Hurtado, Jade Pettyjohn, Lance Lim, Aidan Miner, and Tony Cavalero. The series adaptation of School of Rock ran for three seasons from March 12, 2016 to April 8, 2018.
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