Monday, October 06, 2003

Why School of Rock rocks:

    And part of what's so touching about School of Rock is that it's clearly from the work of shy people: It's a rock-'n'-roll anthem for the timid. It's about kids—and grown-ups—who need to rev themselves up to transcend their own self-doubt. Rock—or dreaming about rock—is how they get out of themselves and connect with the cosmic oneness.

    School of Rock is totally formulaic: There are stuffy killjoy parents and a stuck-up stick insect of a principal—even though she's played with delicious fidgety self-consciousness by Joan Cusack. You've seen this Battle of the Bands climax a thousand times. But there are rare formula pictures—the bicycle movie Breaking Away (1979) was another—that seem to be arriving at the formula from the inside, with a kind of naive hopefulness that seems as much a product of movie-love as it is of a desire to reach a mass audience. For all its slickness, School of Rock has a let's-put-on-a-show quality that touches you in the most direct way a movie can. It's as if the filmmakers had said, "I'd like to teach the world to kick butt—in perfect harmony."

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