School of Rock


I really didn’t think I would enjoy this movie. “Not my style,” I said to myself.

But I was wrong.

Although it’s true that it is not my style, I still enjoyed it a lot.

In case it’s not clear, do note that we’re talking about the movie by Richard Linklater released on October 3, 2003 (I don’t know anything about the subsequent musical, TV show, or anything else with the same title, but everyone else seems to). That date feels like yesterday — but I just realized that many of my students weren’t even born when this was filmed! If we assume that it was filmed six months before release, it turns out that 27 of my 92 students were born later than April 3, 2003. (I just checked.)

If this were an assignment for an English course, I would surely be asked to “compare and contrast” School of Rock with Camp, which I reviewed on August 6. Well, I’m not going to write an entire comparative essay here, but I do want to make a few remarks. First the similarities, then the differences:

  • Both movies are about young people making music together.
  • Camp takes place in the summer; one of the characters in School of Rock is named Summer. (OK, that’s a stretch, but I couldn’t come up with an actual second similarity.)

  1. While Camp focuses almost entirely on the kids, School of Rock focuses more on their teacher, who plays a larger-than-life comedic role.
  2. Camp is serious, though with some comic relief; School of Rock is clearly a comedy, though with serious content and performances.
  3. The characters in Camp are teens, played by actors their age; the characters in School of Rock are preteens, mostly (though not entirely) played by teens.
  4. The kids portrayed in Camp are seriously dedicated to the performing arts; they go to a performing arts camp summer after summer, after all. The ones in School of Rock are well-rounded private-school students with no particular focus on performing. (It was clear, however, that the actors had auditioned for their musical talents, since all of them were actually playing instruments and/or singing as portrayed. I read that one girl, who played the aforementioned Summer, was actually ten years old at the time and had to take extra vocal lessons to learn how to sing less well, since her role required that!)
  5. School of Rock is overtly fiction; Camp feels almost like a documentary, even though it’s actually fictional as well. (Maybe that could have been my second similarity above.)
  6. Camp says nothing about the kids’ regular schools (and it would be hard to do so, since there were presumably a great many of them); School of Rock is all about a regular school. Like most comedies that take place in a school, it does make one wonder about teachers, curriculum, rules, and so forth. Unlike most, however, the principal is portrayed somewhat three-dimensionally, not being entirely the Type A personality that she presents to her students.

I just thought of another very minor similarity: the phys ed counselor/teacher is belittled in both films.

But all right, that’s enough comparing and contrasting.


Categories: Movies & (occasionally) TV, Teaching & Learning