Jack Black has mainly played smaller bit parts in movies and the problem has always been that whenever he is on screen he steals the show. He has had a starring role in one film (Shallow Hal) but as you will quickly learn from this film they kept him on a pretty short leash. This guy is on overdrive whenever there is a camera anywhere within a hundred feet.
Jack Black is Dewey Finn the down on his luck wannabe rock god. His roommate’s new girlfriend threatens to kick Dewey out if he doesn’t come up with som… rent money and then he gets kicked out of his band for sucking and playing 20 minute guitar solos. Out of luck and options he gets a phone call for his roommate, it is a prestigious prep school who wants him to temp for them for $600 a week. Dewey senses an opportunity to make some easy money and you can just imagine what happens next.
One day he wanders by the music class and sees the kids playing instruments and decides that he can turn them into the ultimate band. The children are a little reluctant but quickly all jump into things head over heals. Amazingly the kids manage to keep up with Jack’s extremely enthusiastic performance and in a couple of scenes even manage to steal the show. Dewey reminds us all what the attraction to good rock and roll is and that is the incredible energy and passion that these people pour into the music.
The film is available in both a widescreen (1.85:1 anamorphic) and fullscreen format. The widescreen version contains an average transfer the film is nice and sharp for the most part. There are a couple of scenes that are soft and grainy looking but for the most part no serious issues. Colors are somewhat muted and washed out, the film has a very grey and brown washed out tone to it that was a little disappointing. Edge enhancement is kept to a minimum and halos are only visible on a couple of occasions. The image was decent overall but just seemed to lack that pop that I was expecting to see.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track is where this disk really shines. Dewey’s bad howling rock god impressions come across in all there miss guided glory and dialogue is intelligible and very easy to understand. The rear channels get a good workout with a pumped up classic rock soundtrack and the horrible sounds of Dewey’s smokin’ van. On the couple of live music shoots film we have a nicely panned front image with excellent crowd sounds (a number of times I was able to pick out very clean and distinct voices in the crowd). The subwoofer is the only thing that doesn’t get a good working over, it fires up occasionally and sounds decent when it is used but this is mainly just in the live music spots at the beginning and end of the film.
For special features we have two different commentaries one with Jack Black and Richard Linklater who is the director of the film. This commentary is one of the more entertaining that I have listened too. Next we have a “kids commentary” with some of the children from the film, this proves to be a little messy but fun non the less.
Now we move onto a featurette on the making of the film entitled Lessons learned in School of Rock. The other featurette is with some of the kids in the band and follows them to the Toronto film festival for the premiere of the film. It is interesting to watch the two different featurettes as we learn that the kids in the band are really musicians and played the music that they perform in the film.
Next up we have the video clip that Jack Black put together to convince Led Zepplin to let them use one of their songs in the film, obviously by the inclusion of The Immigrants Song in the film they accepted. Also included is MTV’s Diary of Jack Black where we discover that this guy is really on 100% of the time when the camera is on him, some very funny stuff here.
Lastly we have some DVDROM content where we first get to see Jack contemplate his five, make that four favorite bands. Next we get to walk through the chalkboard in Dewey Fin’s history of rock and peruse the original theatrical website.
The menus for the disc are all motion menus with audio and clips form the film playing in different parts of the film. The menus match the look and feel of the disc very nicely and are easy to navigate.
This is a fantastic film about the importance of music and the difference that it makes in our lives on a daily basis. Jack Black is hilarious as the crazy rocked out loser who redeems himself in the end. The transfer could be better but the film is so much fun you forget all about it. Enjoy, highly recommended.
Special Features List
- Commentary by actor Jack Black and director Richard Linklater
- Commentary by the kids from the film
- “Lessons Learned”
- Jack Black’s pitch to Led Zeppelin
- Music video
- MTV’s diary of Jack Black
- Kids’ Video Diary from the Toronto Film Festival
- Dewey Finn’s History of Rock Interactive Feature