Not since John Belushi graced movie screens more than two decades ago have there been eyebrows as comedically expressive as the pair punctuating the expanse of forehead belonging to Black, the hefty and heftily talented star of this joyful family film. Black's brows reach a zen zenith in School of Rock when he coaxes them into doing a mini version of the wave, each brow repeatedly rising and then falling, one after the other.
The comparison to Belushi is apt. Black (see page 75) shares with the Animal House star a full-tilt approach to comic acting: If a little is good, a lot is better. In both their cases that's generally true. Here Black rocks out as Dewey Finn, a wailing wannabe who, after being kicked out of his band, gets himself hired under false pretenses as a substitute teacher at an elite prep school, a job for which he is in no way qualified. He's soon instructing his 11-year-old students on the finer points of a Led Zeppelin guitar solo and recruiting them into a rock band with himself as lead vocalist. He hopes to win $20,000 at a local Battle of the Bands contest. But in carrying out this scheme, Finn matures—becoming more caring and responsible—and so do his kids. And did I mention that the school's uptight bespectacled principal (the always wonderful Cusack) loses her inhibitions when Finn coaxes her into downing a beer and listening to Fleetwood Mac?
With the exuberant School of Rock, director Richard Linklater (Tape) has succeeded in making that rarest of movies: one that children and parents can enjoy equally. (PG-13)