School of Rock

dir. Linklater

Opens Fri Oct 3

Various Theaters

The School of Rock is the single most excruciating film I have suffered through all year. Every time Jack Black flashed the devil horns, it was all I could do to keep from scraping out my eyeballs with my soda straw. My viewing companion was not interested enough to feel as passionately as I did, however. Rather, his boredom fostered a vigorous text-messaging session lasting nearly the entirety of this warmed-over piece of nostalgic, pandering, cutesy crap.

Directed by Richard Linklater (Dazed & Confused, Slacker), The School of Rock stars Jack Black as Dewey Finn, an aging, pathetic rocker who gets kicked out of his band. The cheesiness of his onstage posturing can only be matched by his inability to get a job in lieu of his rockstar dreams, and yetÉ he must stop mooching off his substitute-teacher best friend (the cool guy from Chuck & Buck) and pay the rent, after said best friend's stereotypically domineering girlfriend demands he start functioning in the "real world."

Dewey ends up faking that he's an actual substitute teacher and gets a job teaching sixth graders. Of course--because this film represents the corpse of Generation X ideals on a pedestal, apparently without any awareness that time has passed since 1992--Dewey is of the belief that there is nothing more in life than rock, and begins teaching the kids to rock so that they may enter the battle of the bands. While I am passionate about rocking, The School of Rock employs every cliché imaginable, from Kindergarten Cop to Spinal Tap, while promoting a sickly Gen-X nostalgia and not being funny, to boot. If the film is about the generation gap and the power of rock to span the ages, it's unfortunate that its power stinks like a rotten corpse.