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Xpress, the Coolest Section of the St. Petersburg Times, is the home for features, news and views of interest to young readers. Most of the work in Xpress, which appears on Mondays in Floridian, is produced by the Times' X-Team. The team of journalists ages 9-17 from around the Tampa Bay area is selected every year at the end of the school year to serve during the following school term. The current team of 12 was chosen out of 150 applicants. Watch for X-Team application forms in Xpress during the month of May.


Read the reviews by Xpress Film Critic Billy Norris


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Movie review

Time to get to 'School'

By BILLY NORRIS
Published October 6, 2003

School of Rock
[Paramount Pictures]
Jack Black, who plays a substitute teacher, stars with Joey Gaydos in School of Rock.
Billy Norris
Read the reviews by Xpress Film Critic Billy Norris

School of Rock

RATING: PG-13

SUMMARY: Dewey Finn (Jack Black) is a rock guitarist/vocalist who has been trying to make it big in the music industry most of his adult life. When his current band gets tired of his onstage antics and cocky attitude, they vote to kick him out of the group before they compete at the upcoming Battle of the Bands competition for a $20,000 grand prize. Dewey is way behind on his rent, and his roommate, Ned Schneebly (Mike White), is feeling pressure from his domineering new girlfriend, Patty (Sarah Silverman), to kick Dewey out of the apartment. While slouching around in the apartment one afternoon, Dewey receives a call intended for Ned offering a job as a long-term substitute teacher - a highly coveted "gig" - at a local high-class private elementary school. He decides to pose as Ned and take the job to earn the extra bucks for the rent.

Upon his arrival at the uptight prep school, he is welcomed by the stern principal, Rosalie Mullins (Joan Cusack), who introduces him to his precocious fifth-grade class. Having no prior teaching experience, he is clueless about what to do with these kids until he hears the talented group perform in music class. Using his rock 'n' roll prowess, he is able to put together the right musical components from his class to form a group worthy of competing at Battle of the Bands.

MY VIEW: You have to suspend all disbelief before taking in this movie. You quickly realize there's no way a substitute teacher is going to come in and turn a class into a rock band without anybody - principal, teachers, parents - noticing. Once you get past that, it's a lot of fun. Jack Black shows a new side of himself. He still has a tinge of that John Belushi Animal House style, but we also get to see his true talent as a skilled vocalist and guitar player. I liked that they used musically talented kids to play the roles; it's genuine and gave the film something most movies of this type lack. On the negative side, it's going to attract a younger audience than it should because of the appeal of a young supporting cast. The language is moderately rude, not as bad as many PG-13 films have been lately, but still harsher than what 10-year-olds should be saying. The previews advertise this flick as a rock 'n' roll fable, and that sums it up fairly well.

RECOMMENDATION: The ideal audience for this film will be early to mid teens. This school is definitely worth attending.

GRADE: B-

- Billy Norris, 15, is in the 10th grade at Seminole High School and is a former member of the Times' X-Team.

[Last modified October 3, 2003, 15:34:21]

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  • Movie review
  • Time to get to 'School'

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