2003 Certificate: pg


The Commitments meets Wayne's World as slacker guitarist Jack Black poses as a stand-in teacher and turns his class of nerds into a thumpin' rock act. Pledge allegiance to the band and get a GCSE in AC/DC as Black and Richard Linklater get you rock'n'rolling in the aisles. And headteacher Joan Cusack? We salute you.


  • Richard Linklater


  • Jack Black

  • Joan Cusack

  • Mike White

  • Sarah Silverman


Meatloaf doppelganger Dewey Finn (Black) doesn't do classical music ("Beethoven, Mozart, Enya"). He "serves society by rock".

Kicked out of his own band and behind with the rent, he accepts a post as a supply teacher at an elementary school following a mix-up with his flatmate.

Faced with a classroom-full of keen-to-learn students, he declares the whole day a recess until he sees they can play musical instruments.

Assuming the mantle of a sort of Julie Andrews raised on Metallica, he uses the discarded lessons to fashion them into a kick-ass rock band. The Von Trapps meet Van Halen.

But first he's got to educate his charges in the mysterious ways of rock-n'roll by dishing out CDs so they can savour the devil's music at home.

They're instructed to check out the keyboard solo in Roundabout by Yes or the vocal performance in Pink Floyd's Great Gig in the Sky.

Everything is leading towards the local Battle of the Bands contest where Dewey can achieve his life's dream - playing a "face-melting show".

This is essentially the Jack Black show and he single-handedly carries the gig by virtue of Dewey's irrepressible optimism and impervious self belief.

Director Richard Linklater, who is better known for the left-field "slacker" genre, brings an edge to the comedy missing from most Hollywood laughs-by-numbers movies.

For instance, to make the auditions for the band contest, the kids are forced to feign terminal illness and there's a child abuse reference that they just about get away with.

However, the real star is Black, whose molten enthusiasm fires a staid group of kids hamstrung by dry-as-chalkdust teaching.

It's terrifically enjoyable and the energy of Black's performance takes the breath away while support - particularly Joan Cusack's college principle with a Stevie Nicks complex - is splendid.

A clever movie, this will appeal to the kids but probably moreso to that select band of adults who will get the knowing reference to AC/DC in the final reel.


Tim Evans