April 28, 2004

School of Rock

I told myself when I started this blog that Iíd write about every movie I saw and every book I read as a way of keeping track. But then I see a movie like School of Rock and Iím not sure why I made that promise to myself. Because really what do you say? Itís silly and light and dumb and fun. But it makes absolutely no sense, has virtually no nods to anything resembling reality, and ends with a predictable, formulaic climax including angry parents becoming proud parents. (Did I spoil the movie? Whoops. But really, letís be serious. This is not a movie you can spoil.) So what do you say?

It does raise some questions, though. Why do we see movies? What appeals? Why did this bit of fluff with the bare bones of a story but a lot of rock Ďn roll and even more of Jack Blackís eyebrows, why did it do so well? Does story matter so little? Do characters drawn so broad theyíre caricatures tickle your fancy? Is it just the filmís delicious topsy turvy jab at uptight schooling, does that bring back memories of boring days in classrooms and how much fun it would have been to have a rock Ďn roll teacher instead? (IE: your basic wish fulfillment fantasy.) Or is it that other perennial of comedy, the fish out of water, juxtaposing this grungy rockster with the dark wood and scrollwork halls of a snooty prep school?

Donít get me wrong, it wasnít a bad movie. It was enjoyable enough. Especially the climax, seeing these ten year olds perform their, um, final project. And various sequences along the way, as Dewey Finn (Jack Black) draws complex diagrams on the blackboard to illustrate the history of rock and analyzes concert footage, treating this outrageous topic with the seriousness that normal teachers devote to math and history and social studies. And itís even satisfying to watch as Dewey has the inevitable character arc wherein he grows into his role and becomes an adult. But it never felt like a real movie to me. It never surprised me, never let me under the surface. Do I ask too much of a simple comedy? I think I donít. I think it never got there because Black and Mike White (yes, deeply amusing, the writersí real names) never treated their scenario with respect. Did they have to? No, of course not. But in return I donít have to care after I turn off the TV.

Sometimes I think back on my life pre-Damian, when I actually went to see movies in the theater. At least twice a month, often more. How did I have that much time to waste? I remember it, though. Paying my money, slipping inside the hushed foyer with its red carpet, picking out the perfect center seats, waiting for the lights to dim and the movie to transport me. Most never did. But like a woman with a series of blind dates, I always hoped the next one would.

This one would have been one of the misses for me. Nice enough guy, not exactly marriage material. Made me smile a little, thatís all. Is that enough? It should be, I guess. It isnít.

Posted by Tamar at April 28, 2004 08:46 PM

I saw it on a plane. It was a perfect airplane movie.

Going to the movie theater is more about getting out of the house these days. It's easier to get transported when you don't have your kids and chores staring you in the face in your own house.

Posted by: Allison at April 28, 2004 11:39 PM

God yes, it would be a perfect airplane movie. I think I'd have a hard time going out to a not-good movie, though. I'd be sitting there toting up the babysitter fees in my head. Twelve bucks an hour adds up fast! Fortunately, we've gone out seldom enough in the past few years that every movie we've seen in the theater has been good and even great. I think I've gotten pickier as a result.

Posted by: Tamar at April 29, 2004 10:12 PM