Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Media Chick: School of Rock

Here I am again, loyal droves, to give you some more analysis. And if you're new to my writing and you wish there were more of it, go visit my personal Smelblog. It's the same, witty Smeliana with dirtier language and pictures. (No dirty pictures...yet.)

I Always Think There's A Band, Kid

It took me three years to see School of Rock. Why? Why would I wait so long for unbridled hilarity? Because I'm a snob. A stupid snob who likes to feel like her films are commenting on society and history and theory. And if they're not depressing treatises, I like them to be cheeky satires or meta-rants. So I avoided School of Rock because I thought it wouldn't thrill me. And then I would have to explain to the plebian masses why I wasn't rolling in the aisles whenever Mr. Black raised his eyebrows. And that, my gentle readers, would be too much with which to deal.

So I've waited until today to watch my roommate's copy. And I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Why didn't any of you tell me that School of Rock was a modern-day Music Man???

I'm a little disappointed in you all. I would have watched it much sooner had I known. We have the idealistic dreamer who comes across as a slackerly, commitment-phobic huckster in our hero. We have the begging-to-be-unwound teacher/principal/librarian/pseudo-love interest. (She even gets propositioned by a more successful version of the hero during the film's climax.) We have the old friend who abadoned the dream to come work in the situation in which Mr. Music finds himself. Friendo here has got a girl whereas Mr. Music is loveless, albeit searching. He wins over the kids, sometimes as a group and sometimes confronting individuals' needs, giving them special parts when requested. And, when the moment that the kids have been working for suddenly arrives, he has been intimidated by the parents, run out of town, only to be ushered back by his believing flock, pleading for his leadership and turning his lessons of confidence and joy back onto himself in the nick of time. Huzzah!

I know the love story elements aren't as strong. There aren't any bandleader/baton girl romances. And the kids aren't exactly the same. But there is a fat Black girl with an Arethavoice, a scared Asian boy with a penchant for Classical piano and books, and a skinny whitewashed Jewboy who is the brains behind the music. That totally modernizes the fatherless Irish boy with a lisp. If only the grade-grubbing Hapa girl had been sisters with the uptight principal...

(The ever-talented Joan Cusack looks significantly less ugly here than she usually does. I think she's the ugliest successful actress in Hollywood. Except maybe Uma Thurman, but she has her good days, at least.)

Anyway, what more is there to say about School of Rock that can't be concluded by my racial stereotyping? I would comment on the actual rock elements of the film, but as I would say, I don't know from Rock. But the movie was really fun and peppy. I bet it's a great babysitting flick. And then you can do air guitar with your kids. That'd be good.

Also, what about the bassist chick? She's totally ignored in the plot. I know you can't have a plot around every kid, but, come on! She's a female, 10 year-old bassist! You gotta give her some attention or no one ever will!

And don't even get me started on the gaygaygay little boy fashion designer. The only way they could have exagerrated that further would have been to have him hit on one of the other rockers. "I love your leather pants. They fit so...well. They'd look great on my floor in the morning..." (Overeducated, gay 10 year-olds speak with many ellipses. It's a mix between closeted fear and fabulous confidence.)

So that's my take on School of Rock. Sorry, Dr. Stoner, that I didn't write about How Stella Got Her Groove Back yet. I don't know if I should tackle the racial angle (He's always blacklit and she always spotlit, making him appear even darker and she lighter, a dynamic that fits right in with their power struggle.) and/or the gender angle (Is this an objectifying of the man a reclaiming of female sexuality, another tickmark in the history of objectifying Black men, or a dual-objectification of both of them, because they're both just so damn gorgeous?). And all of the bell hooks texts in my brain are screaming at me. "How dare you purport to suggest that one could ever separate the racial and gender angles! And what about the class issues?! That boy went from wealthy in Jamaica to working-class among the vacationing wealthy to rich in San Francisco! Where is the nuance in those societies? And what about addressing the poor Blacks in the areas?! No successful Black woman should live without acknowledging her less fortunate sisters in the ghetto! Where is this movie's class/racial/gender consciousness? It's in the dumpster, chucked to make room for a couple of steamy sex scenes! Well, I never!" You see, bell hooks is a very angry woman. But Lord does she have a right to be...

Anyway, next time I tell you my brain is overflowing after a movie, it's with rants like that. Just so you know.

So, whaddya think?


Anonymous said...


Uma Thurman is always hot. She never has a bad day. Trust me.


Anonymous said...

I should see school of rock now! Is there a moment when Jack Black looses his character's voice and speaks the deep truth: are you a dirty rotten liar? "yes", etc. "I always think there is a band, kid".

what is jack black's truth (or do I have the wrong movie"

Rami Raff said...

I am shocked, SHOCKED that you would characterize Joan Cussack and epsecially Uma Thurman as ugly. While not "sexy", Cusack has always been pretty. As for Thurman even in her worst films (Batman and Robin and Even Cowgirls get the Blues) Thurman is nothing less than gorgeous. She is at her absolute hottest ever in her recent appearance in The Producers and more hot appearances are on the way in My Super Ex-Girlfriend and yet anothe re-make of The Women. To quote Laura Linney in KInsey "Ugly is such an ugly word."

Otherwise, excellent call on The Music Man. Got a little tangentical describing the kids but otherwise a spot on comparative piece.