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School of Rock, also called The School of Rock, is a 2003 American musical comedy film directed by Richard Linklater, written by Mike White, and starring Jack Black. The main plot follows rock singer and guitarist, Dewey Finn (portrayed by Black), who is unanimously kicked out of his band and subsequently disguises himself as a substitute teacher at a prestigious prep school and forms a band of fifth-grade students to win the upcoming Battle of the Bands so he can pay his rent for his apartment.


Dewey Finn (Jack Black) is a rock singer and guitarist who is unanimously kicked out of his fictional band No Vacancy by his bandmates because of his arrogance and frequent hyperactive stage antics and is replaced by another guitarist named Spider (Lucas Babin). His submissive roommate and lifelong friend Ned Schneebly (writer Mike White), a substitute teacher, is pressured by his girlfriend Patty Di Marco (Sarah Silverman) to evict Dewey unless he "gets a real job" and pay off his growing rent debt, which he only promises to do out of sympathy for Ned because of his fear of never getting another girlfriend. Dewey feels forced to give up his passion until he receives a phone call intended for Ned from Rosalie Mullins (Joan Cusack), principal of Horace Green, a prestigious prep school in Woodbury, New York, asking Ned to fill in for a teacher who broke her leg. Desperate for income to avoid getting evicted, Dewey pretends to be Ned and takes the job as a substitute teacher for the fifth-grade class.

Dewey has no real idea how to carry out his role as a teacher, and instead simply gives his students constant free time. He requests that they simply call him "Mr. S." after attempting to write Ned's name on the board but being unable to spell "Schneebly". However, when Dewey overhears his pupils playing in music class, he realizes that the children of his class are musically talented. He decides to turn his temporary job into what he tells them is a "special class project", but is actually a personal one: to turn a classroom full of kids into a rock band and crew, which will serve as a vehicle to stardom, ultimately to win the upcoming Battle of the Bands, where he is out to avenge his eviction from his old band and win the $20,000 prize. After realizing that the kids are mostly interested in pop and hip hop music, Dewey turns the school days into lessons of rock history and music playing, exposing his students to those artists he regards as rock legends. Many rock legends are featured in classic photos and footage during a montage scene, including Led Zeppelin, The Ramones, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Iggy Pop, The Who, Rush, The Clash, Nirvana, AC/DC, Black Sabbath, and Yes.

Dewey narrowly escapes detection when Ms. Mullins decides to attend one of his class's lessons to check on their progress, forcing him to actually teach the official course material. Dewey attempts to revive any old love for rock he finds in her, having found out that she likes Stevie Nicks and playing her song "Edge of Seventeen" on a jukebox while visiting a bar. The two develop a close friendship after this. Meanwhile, the class audition for the Battle of the Bands, which Dewey told them was their "school project". They are turned back because they show up too late. With the help of class factotum and band manager Summer Hathaway (Miranda Cosgrove), Dewey persuades the Battle's managers by lying that the students are all terminally ill with "stick-it-to-da-man-ni-osis", a fictional rare blood disease, and out of compassion, they allow the students to perform in the Battle of the Bands. However, later that day, Dewey is exposed when Ned receives a paycheck from Horace Green in the mail, even though he has never actually worked there. During the parent-teacher night later on, Dewey meets the students' parents, who initially seem very suspicious of his ability to teach their children. Dewey succeeds in convincing them that he is a competent teacher, but Ned appears with the police and confronts Dewey (due almost entirely to his girlfriend's persuasion). His real identity is revealed, and he is sacked. Considering himself a failure, he falls into depression, and Ned sadly informs him that it may be time he moved out. The next day, at Horace Green, the class decide that, even if Dewey and the project was fake, they have still put too much work in to not do the final show at Battle of the Bands, and so leave for the concert, stopping on the way to persuade Dewey to join them. Realizing what has happened, Ned finally stands up to his girlfriend and leaves her to watch the concert.

At the competition, the band plays "School of Rock", a song written by their lead guitarist Zack Mooneyham (Joey Gaydos), instead of Dewey's "The Legend of The Rent". Despite the strong reception from the audience (including Ms. Mullins and the students' parents, who thought Dewey abducted the kids), the class loses to Dewey's ex-band No Vacancy, but accept their defeat due to Dewey saying that they were not here to win and that they were going to play "one great show". The audience, however, becomes angered by No Vacancy's victory and call for School of Rock to come back on stage. The band goes for an encore, playing a cover of "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll)" by AC/DC with an altered ending. During the closing credits, Summer is seen arguing a deal over her cell phone as she enters the "School of Rock", a newly opened after-school program where Dewey continues to coach the class and Ned teaches the younger ones, and the credits roll as the class sings "The movie is over, but we're still on screen," breaking the fourth wall.


  • Dewey Finn (Jack Black) - Dewey is a down-on-his-luck, energetic, 30-year-old, wannabe rock superstar and the protagonist.
  • Rosalie "Roz" Mullins (Joan Cusack) - The very uptight principal of Horace Green Elementary. She is always conservatively dressed.
  • Ned Schneebly (Mike White) - Ned is Dewey's roommate and best friend. He is described as a pushover by his girlfriend, Patty.
  • Patty Di Marco (Sarah Silverman) - Ned's mean girlfriend and the film's main antagonist. Patty works for the mayor. She hates rock music and basically controls what Ned does, ensuring that he does not go back to being a rock fanatic. She makes no secret of her hatred for Dewey, constantly berating him for his lack of a proper job and inability to pay rent.
  • Zack Mooneyham (Joey Gaydos Jr.) - The talented but shy lead guitarist of the School of Rock. His overbearing father has a large and domineering influence on him. Dewey's nickname for him is "Zack-Attack"
  • Summer Hathaway (Miranda Cosgrove) - The class factotum, Summer is determined to please and succeed, even if it means using somewhat unethical means. Dewey's nickname for her is "Tinker Bell"
  • Freddy Jones (Kevin Clark) - The punk rock, delinquent drummer of the School of Rock. He evidently has made a hobby out of pyromania. Dewey's nickname for him is "Spazzy McGee"
  • Katie (Rebecca Brown) - Originally a cellist, Katie takes up the bass guitar. She is portrayed as a quiet girl, but eagerly takes interest in rock music. In the commentary, it is revealed during the credits she was supposed to have a solo, but it was cut out. Dewey's nickname for her is "Posh Spice"
  • Lawrence (Robert Tsai) - A quiet, awkward "boffin" who becomes the keyboardist for the band. Dewey's nickname for him is "Mr Cool"
  • Tomika (Maryam Hassan) – An insecure girl who is originally a roadie nicknamed "Turkey Sub" but after discovering her amazing voice, is nicknamed "Songbird" and sings back up.
  • Marta (Caitlin Hale) - Marta is another back-up singer, seemingly more lively than other classmates, showing off her voice with "Tomorrow" from the musical Annie. Dewey's nickname for her is "Blondie"
  • Alicia (Aleisha Allen) - Alicia volunteers her singing voice to become a back-up singer, "auditioning" with Amazing Grace. Dewey's nickname for her is "Brace Face"
  • Billy (Brian Falduto)- Originally assigned security, the effeminate Billy requests he be band stylist instead. Dewey's nickname for him is "Fancy Pants"
  • Gordon (Zachary Infante) - Gordon is a roadie and is noted for his exceptional computer skills. He tends to get stressed easily when his plans do not work out, but Dewey inspires confidence in him. Nicknamed "Roadrunner"
  • Marco (James Hosey) - Also a roadie with Gordon. Nicknamed "Carrot Top"
  • Frankie (Angelo Massagli) - At the beginning of the film, he is good friends with Freddy, and the one who interacts/jokes with him the most. He works on security. Nicknamed "Tough Guy"
  • Leonard (Cole Hawkins) - He works on security along with Frankie. Nicknamed "Short Stop"
  • Eleni and Michelle (Veronica Afflerbach and Jordan-Claire Green respectively) - Designated the groupies by Dewey.
  • Theo (Adam Pascal) - Theo is the leader of Dewey's old band No Vacancy.
  • Spider (Lucas Babin) - Spider is the guitarist who replaces Dewey in No Vacancy.
  • Neil (Lucas Papaelias) - Neil is the bass guitarist of No Vacancy.


A stage dive gone wrong incident involving Ian Astbury of rock band The Cult was witnessed by Jack Black, and was used as inspiration for a scene in School of Rock, in which the character Dewey Finn, stage dives and hits the floor; "I went to see a reunion, in Los Angeles, of The Cult; they were playing and Ian Astbury, the lead singer, took a dive. It was at The Viper Room, and it was just a bunch of jaded Los Angelinos out there, and they didn't catch him and he plummeted straight to the ground. Later I thought it was so hilarious. So that was put into the script".[2]

Many scenes from the movie were shot around the New York City area. The school portrayed in School of Rock is actually Main Hall at Wagner College in Staten Island, New York.[3] The tag lines are references to famous rock songs: "We Don't Need No Education" is a famous line from "Another Brick in the Wall, Part II" by Pink Floyd and "Come On Feel the Noize" is taken from "Cum On Feel the Noize" by Slade.



A soundtrack album of the same name was released on September 30, 2003. The film's director, Richard Linklater, scouted the country for talented 13-year-old musicians to play the rock-and-roll music that features on the soundtrack and in the film.

One noteworthy feature of the soundtrack is the inclusion of Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song". Led Zeppelin has a history of not allowing their songs to be used for commercial purposes and rarely give permission for anyone to use their songs, the only exception being filmmaker Cameron Crowe, who was the only person to write about them favorably while he was a writer for Rolling Stone magazine. To get permission, Richard Linklater came up with the idea to shoot a video on the stage used at the end of the film, with Jack Black begging the band for permission and the crowd cheering and chanting behind him. The video was sent directly to Led Zeppelin, and permission was granted for the song. The video can be seen on the DVD extras.

Music featured within the film

* Featured on the Soundtrack album


School of Rock was met with high critical acclaim and Black's performance was praised by most of the critics. It received a "Certified Fresh" rating of 92% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 186 reviews with an average rating of 7.7/10, and it fared even better with their selected top critics; out of 36 reviews, all but one were positive, which left the film with a rating of 97% with an average rating of 8.2/10. On Metacritic, the film has a rating of 82 out of 100 which indicates "universal acclaim".

Box office performance

The movie was a financial success. It grossed $131,282,949 worldwide, almost four times its budget of $35 million.

Awards and nominations

The film was nominated for several awards, including Black receiving Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor - Comedy or Musical (which he lost to Bill Murray for Lost in Translation), and winning an MTV Movie Award for Best Comedic Performance.


On May 23, 2008, Jack Black revealed a sequel was in the works: "I'd really like to do it, the last one was great. We are seriously thinking about it; there's already a script. In a few weeks we have to decide if we go through with the project or not."[4]

Variety reported on July 13, 2008 that Richard Linklater is attached to direct again, and Scott Rudin is returning as producer.[5] Mike White, who penned the first, is writing the screenplay, titled "School of Rock 2: America Rocks," which picks up with Finn leading a group of summer school students on a cross-country field trip that delves into the history of rock 'n' roll and explores the roots of blues, rap, country and other genres.[6]

School of Rock 2: America Rocks was confirmed by Paramount on July 14, 2008.[7] However, on September 5, 2008, director Richard Linklater said the film "might not" happen at all and that Paramount just jumped the gun on the news.[8]

On June 16, 2009, while promoting his new film Year One, Black commented on the development of the film, saying, "Yeah, there's development. We'll see. I don't know. I'm a little hesitant about doing a sequel. I had fun doing the first one, just don't want to do something because it's there. I want to do it because it's going to be really funny or better than the first one."[9]


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