Teacher movie. Kid Movie. Seems only logical today's movie should combine the two.
School of Rock.
It's been a while since I've seen this movie, so I'm mostly just sitting and watching. But, I just go to include Dewey's (Jack Black) first lesson to his class:
Give up. Just quit. Because, in this life, you can't win. Yeah, you can try, but in the end you're just gonna lose. Big time. Because the world is run by the Man. The Man. Oh, you don't know the Man? He's everywhere. In the White House. Down the hall. Ms. Mullins--she's the Man. And the Man ruined the ozone, he's burning down the Amazon, and he kidnapped Shamu and put her in a chlorine tank.
And there used to be a way to stick it to the Man. It was called Rock 'n Roll, but guess what? Oh no, the Man ruined that, too, with a little thing called MTV.
So don't waste your time trying to make anything cool or pure or awesome 'cause the Man is just gonna call you a fat, washed up loser and crush your soul. So, do yourselves a favor and just give up.
And then, I sit and watch for a bit. Forty-five minutes in, it gets personal. Dewey has already turned the class into a band, yeah, but that's the basic premise. This is a teacher movie, so of course he's got to get personally involved with the students. He sees Zack with his father in the parking lot and by Dewey's standards if not ours, Zack's father is overbearing. (This specific implication of subplot to come will have no payoff, of course, which is a fault in the film's structure but also maybe a welcome detail).
His smaller interactions with the students are actually quite... good. He has an almost immediate impulse to be supportive (even when trying not to be). And, then he transitions into something like an actual adult without a thought. He finds Freddy "chillin'" with another band in a van and he tells them, "That kid's ten years old. He looks up to you. You are setting an example for him, so start acting like a responsible adult." This, of course, after he has essentially kidnapped most (some stay behind to make it seem like they are all in the classroom) of the class to take them to audition for the battle of the bands, but still...
Dewey, and the movie, takes the students seriously for who they are.
Plus, there's this:
The movie takes music seriously as well (like Dead Poets Society takes poetry seriously), though it never spends much time on any of the music lessons.
In the end, the movie is remarkable in how unchanging so many of its characters are. The kids don't turn cute. Dewey doesn't turn nice. Thought the film hints at it, he also doesn't get together with the principal (Joan Cusack) (which is both a structural fault in the film and a welcome change from most any other similar film, like the thing with Zack's dad). And, unlike John Kimble in Kindergarten Cop, Dewey Finn doesn't stick around to keep teaching at the school (though he does apparently keep teaching, sort of).