School of Rock

Kicked out of his band and desperate for work, Dewey Finn intercepts a call meant for his roommate and lands an extended gig as a substitute teacher at Horace Green Elementary, a $15,000-per-year private school in the Northeast. The school’s uptight principal suspects something is amiss when the new teacher is less concerned about the students and is more interested in when the school day ends, but he gets the gig anyway. Dewey’s attitude changes when he hears the kids in their music class and realizes they have some serious potential if he can take them under his wing. He forms his own “classroom band” and involves the entire class with a costume designer, backup singers, security, and even a band manager with two goals in mind—to not get caught by the principal and to win the local Battle of the Bands contest. Black already had a solid Hollywood career under his belt as a supporting actor in many TV and movie productions, but his casting as Dewey Finn put him on the map as an A-list actor who could carry a film. Screenwriter Mike White wrote the screenplay specifically for Black after witnessing the funnyman running through the halls of an apartment complex the two both lived in while singing many of the songs featured in the film.

I’ve had this film in my DVD collection since it was released nearly 10 years ago, and the Blu-ray takes the A/V experience to the next level. The increased detail is readily apparent in both close-ups and the longer shots highlighting the sweeping landscapes of the swanky prep school. There’s occasional softness due to the principle photography, but the colors really pop off the screen, and the encode isn’t plagued with too much digital manipulation. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack features a robust midrange, tight bass, and intelligible dialogue throughout.

All of the DVD features are ported over and include an enlightening commentary with director Richard Linklater and Black, a kids’ commentary, and some production featurettes. The best of the bunch is Black’s pitch to Led Zeppelin to allow the film to use their “Immigrant Song” in the movie—which they ultimately agreed to.

The only letdown about this film’s debut on Blu-ray is that it’s a Best Buy exclusive and you’ll probably have to pay a few more dollars for it due to the lack of true market competition. But given the entertainment value of the film, it will be money well spent. Highly recommended.

Studio: Paramount, 2003
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio Format:
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Length: 109 mins.
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Richard Linklater
Starring: Jack Black, Joan Cusack, Mike White, Sarah Silverman

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