I’ve always found the concept of guilty pleasures a bit of an odd one, after all if there is something you enjoy that does not cause harm to others then what have you got to feel guilty about? I appreciate that the concept effectively derives from some playground rule of what is cool or not and that you can’t admit to liking something that is not deemed to be cool by the rest of the gang but I was never in the cool gang and I’m sure not in the playground any more so I’m a bit mystified as to why the concept even exists. I suspect that the film School of Rock may fall under this guilty pleasure but I’ll say here and now I have no guilt in admitting my love for this film and it gives me a huge amount of pleasure. This is a film that I can almost quote word for word and is a go to film for me whenever I want something to make me feel good. It is a homage to Rock music in all it’s guises all done with a huge smile – what’s not to love.
When my kids were getting into the whole High School Musical thing and then moving on to Mamma Mia I wanted a good fun film that would feature a different sort of music, rock, and along bolts Jack Black with his Gibson SG. In the film Jack plays Dewy Finn a “fat washed up loser” who gets kicked out of his band as they want to have a serious tilt at the local Battle of the Bands competition. Dewy’s been mooching off his best mate Ned (Mike White who wrote the script) but with Ned’s new girlfriend (played by Sarah Silverman) wanting Dewy to shape up and get a proper job so that he can pay his share of the rent Dewy faces a dilemma. It is suggested that Dewy sell his guitars but as Dewy says “would you ask Picasso to sell his guitars?” and Dewy can’t give up his roll serving society by rocking. Ned is a substitute/supply teacher (or temp as Dewy calls him) and when Dewy takes a call from head the head of a top private school (Joan Cusack) he decides to pass himself off as Ned to earn some money.
At the school Dewy discovers some musical talent in the class so decides to set up a special school project “Rock Band” where he secretly sculpts the class into a rock band to try and win battle of the bands. In doing so he has to educate them in Rock during which he uses an amazing Rock Family Tree (see top from the film and below reproduced by Frank Reel Reviews) and of course clips and tracks. The soundtrack is a real treat including as it does some of the following classics
- Stay Free – The Clash
- Touch me – The Doors
- Do You Remember Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio – Ramones cover of Kiss track
- Sunshin of Your Love – Cream
- Back in Black – AC/DC
- Highway to Hell – AC/DC
- Smoke on the Water – Deep Purple
- Substitute – The Who
- My Brain is Hanging Upside Down (Bonzo Goes to Bitburg) – The Ramones
- The Wait – Killing Joke cover by Metallica
- TV Eye – The Stooges
- Immigrant Song – Led Zeppelin
- Ballrooms of Mars – T Rex
- Mooage Daydream – David Bowie
- Ride into the Sun – The Velvet Underground
- Set You Free – The Black Keys
- Edge of Seventeen – Stevie Nicks
- It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll) – AC/DC
AC/DC feature heavily and there are other nods to the band as well in that for the final scene at the gig Dewy dresses in school uniform a la Angus Young and of course plays a Gibson SG throughout, the same axe used by Angus. At first Dewy is just using the kids but as the project progresses he finds out more about what an influence he can be and the kids start to lose the straightjackets of strict parents and a stricter school. It is an undeniably feelgood film but one with the spirit of rock running right through it. Richard Linklater who directed clearly has a passion for the music and managed to find a bunch of seriously talented kids to feed off Jack Black’s humour. They must have had serious fun making this film.
With regards to the music it is unusual to have a film with a Led Zep track in it as they are notoriously demanding in releasing songs for use but as Jack Black says in the making of the film you can’t have a film about rock without having Zepellin featured so he made a begging video which he sent to the band which you get to see on the DVD. Hilarious.
So guilty pleasure or not if you like rock in any of it’s guises you should watch this film, if you want an antidote to all the made up manufactured bands and plastic pop that surrounds us, watch this film to see how it should be done.
Now raise your goblet of rock. It’s a toast to those who rock!