Film Review: School of Rock ***

Finally someone gave Jack Black a chance to be Jack Black. Black’s best quality, besides having a name of such classic mischievousness, is his goofily loud persona. In School of Rock, he plays Dewey Finn, an out-of-shape loser with bad hygiene and an overly excitable personality. Sound familiar?

School of Rock is a fairly typical situational comedy, which racks up bonus points from Black’s exhaustively brilliant performance. The film opens at a local rock concert, where Dewey twirls around the stage, crowd surfs, steals extended guitar solos, and does whatever possible to make a tiny gig seem like Madison Square Garden. This reflects the simple quality of the entire movie: Black going bananas to make something big out of nothing.

True to rock history, Dewey’s laid-back band mates are sick of being upstaged and vote him out. The plot is now set for the standard fish-out-of-water story, in which Dewey will of course end up someplace he shouldn’t be.

The film’s writer, Mike White, plays Dewey’s nerdy roommate Ned, a substitute teacher. When Dewey takes a message about a long-term subbing job for Ned, he hears the pay and figures it’s an easy way to make a couple grand.

From here on, Dewey poses as Ned and runs a classroom at one of the state’s most elite private elementary schools. Realism is afforded by adding in a ridiculous string of coincidences and requisite lucky timing, as Dewey manages to evade the school’s strict principal (Joan Cusack), a mob of angry private school parents, and Ned’s bitchy girlfriend (Sarah Silverman).

After attempting to teach the tots the little education he knows, Dewey realizes that some of his students are talented musicians. Desperate to win a battle of the bands contest (movie clich