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Film / School of Rock

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"I pledge allegiance to the band of Mr. Schneebly..."

Patty: Ned has the most important job there is.
Dewey: Temping?
Ned: Dewey, a substitute teacher is not a temp!
Dewey: He's a babysitter!
Ned: Oh, yeah, you think it's so easy? Well, I'd like to see you try. You wouldn't last one day.

School of Rock is a 2003 comedy directed by Richard Linklater (an icon of the American independent film scene going more mainstream), written by Mike White, and starring Jack Black and Joan Cusack.

Dewey Finn (Black) is a rock musician whose Control Freak tendencies, among other things, get him kicked out of the band he founded. After some time of doing nothing, it becomes apparent that he had better find another job to pay the rent.

As it happens, an elite private school in the area has an opening for a long-term substitute teacher. Receiving a phone call intended for his apartment roommate, Ned Schneebly (White), Dewey fakes his roommate's identity and gets hired. He takes the job initially planning to do as little as possible, but soon discovers that the kids have musical talent. After that, he changes his plans drastically, turning the class entirely into a music class about the history of rock, and preparing his kids to enter a Battle Of The Bands contest and beat his old band.

The film received rave reviews from critics and the public alike, and is still one of Black's most well known roles to this day. In fact, Jack Black is on the record as saying the role is his favorite of his career, as well as the closest to his actual personality.

A television series based on the film premiered on Nickelodeon in 2016. There is also a Broadway musical adaptation that opened in the fall of 2015.

Tropes Used in the Film:

  • Academic Alpha Bitch: Summer is a mild example. She is obsessed with getting more gold stars than anyone else, but just tries to get as many as possible for herself and never tries to sabotage anyone else.
  • Actor Allusion: When the girls approach him about their name for the band, Dewey is jamming to the theme song to Channel 101's Computer Man, which starred Jack Black as the title character.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: The parents light up and laugh at the line "Today's assignment... KICK SOME ASS.".
  • An Aesop: A little rebellion in one's life is healthy, but not to the point where it alienates everyone around you.
    • Dewey repeatedly insists that rock is about passion. He always had the passion to rock, but never had anything to say, nowhere to take it. Instead he gives the kids their voice and lets them express their passion, and finds his own passion as a teacher.
  • As You Know: Ms. Mullins says this verbatim when telling the teachers in the staff room how important the upcoming parent/teacher night is.
  • Asian and Nerdy: Lawrence, the keyboarder, is Asian, and is concerned that he isn't cool enough for the band because he feels nerdy.
  • Battle of the Bands: The plot revolves around Dewey entering the kids in one to beat his old band. They lose, but still win the audience's adoration.
  • Becoming the Mask: Dewey eventually does start to care for his students and eventually winds up becoming the teacher of an after-school program called, you guessed it, The School of Rock.
  • Big "SHUT UP!": After Dewey is exposed as an impostor and he and Patty argue in the flat, Ned gets fed up of their arguing and yells at them to shut up three times.
  • Big "WHAT?!": Dewey gets two. The first is during the auditions for Battle of the Bands after Summer tells him another band invited Freddy out to their van. The second is a scene or so later when he's told the auditions are over.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Despite their entry, School of Rock ultimately loses to No Vacancy, Dewey's former band. However, the audience deprives them of their glory by demanding an encore from School of Rock, since the school had more passion for their work. The credits reveal that Dewey has repurposed his love of rock by becoming an afterschool teacher, something that inspires Ned to do the same.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: Dewey's rant about how The Man ruined rock 'n' roll "with a little thing called MTV" is this, as both MTV and Paramount Pictures (who distributed the movie) are both owned by the same company, Paramount Global (formerly Viacom CBS and just Viacom).
  • Blaming "The Man":
    • When Summer demands that "Mr. Schneebly" actually teaches them something, a cynical Dewey breaks out into a rant that all of their dreams are moot because "The Man" is ruining the world and will conspire to keep you down.
    • Later when Dewey warms up to them, one lesson he gives them is that a little rebellion can be good for your well-being and that Hard Rock thrives on that kind of confidence. He demonstrates this by playing the part of "The Man" and encourages them to tell him off.
  • Blatant Lies: Dewey telling the students that the rock band "student project" is for a win on their permanent record counts as this.
    • Earlier in the movie, Dewey attempts to sell his Gibson SG guitar for rent money, claiming that it was owned by Jimi Hendrix. The buyer sees through the lie almost immediately and hangs up.
  • Blithe Spirit: Dewey.
  • Book Ends: Dewey is performing at a concert both at the start and end of the film and performs a stage dive at each one. The first time he fails and lands on the floor, the second time he succeeds.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: Both Dewey and No Vacancy had valid points in the argument and the ending actually emphasizes Dewey's point.
    • No Vacancy were right to kick Dewey out of the band, his antics were embarrassing them and taking away their ability to be seen as a valid music group. In the end, they do in fact win Battle of the Bands. Which does prove their argument about Dewey holding them back with his antics.
    • While his argument was phrased as self-centered, Dewey's right that they need to be passionate about their work. Dewey's passion for music inspires a new generation of musicians and the audience from Battle of the Bands actually deprives No Vacancy of their glory by cheering an encore from School of Rock despite the band losing the competition.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: See Credits Gag below.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Dewey is a talented guitarist, has a good knowledge of rock 'n roll and dreams of being a rock star, but has no other job and no desire to get one, mooching off Ned for years, according to himself. It's only when Patty threatens to kick him out that he decides to do something about it and pay Ned the money he owes him, even if only for Ned's sake.
  • Bros Before Hoes: At the end, Ned breaks up with Patty, and continues his friendship with Dewey.
  • Camp Gay: Billy, the boy placed in charge of designing their costumes, has these mannerisms, though his sexuality isn't explicitly stated. Reportedly, the character wasn't written this way. However, the director saw that playing up the stereotypes would bring in laughs. As a result, screenwriter Mike White (an openly bisexual man with a gay father) disowned the final film.
  • The Cameo: If you've never heard of these guys, you'll miss it, but The Mooney Suzuki are briefly seen backstage at the battle of the bands. Sammy James Jr., the lead singer, co-wrote the song "School of Rock" for the movie along with Mike White.
  • Cassandra Truth: Shortly before Parents' Night, Dewey admits to Ms. Mullins that he's not a real teacher. Ms. Mullins thinks Dewey is just suffering a lapse in self-confidence and tries to encourage him.
  • Character Development: Dewey goes from a selfish Manchild to a Team Dad and a Cool Teacher who learns from the kids how to compromise on the band stuff, which was what got him fired from No Vacancy in the first place.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Parents' Night is mentioned, Dewey promptly forgets about it and does his own thing... and then half an hour later the plot element comes to fruition. And because he hasn't been planning, during that intervening half hour of plot, Hilarity Ensues.
    • Could also be considered foreshadowing, as the principal stresses how important it is.
  • Child Prodigy: All of the children have some exceptional talent that Dewey uses to help the band out (i.e Billy with costume designing, Tomika with singing) but Gordon and Summer are the most traditional examples, Gordon with computers and Summer with organizational skills.
    • This could be a invokedReality Subtext as applied to the kids in the "band." The actors who play bass, guitar, and drums all started musical training exceptionally early.
  • Children Raise You: A non-parental variant. Dewey is kind of a loser asshole and leech at the start of the movie. But being a teacher to the kids brings out the best side of himself, and leads him to try to clean himself up a bit to be a better role model on top of trying to help them deal with their insecurities and problems as much out of genuine friendship as self-interest.
  • City with No Name: Patty says she’s an assistant to the mayor of “the city”, but exactly which city is never specified.
    • The cars in the movie have New York license plates and filming took place in nondescript-looking parts of Staten Island (part of New York City) and New Jersey. Given all of this, the apparent affluence of the kids’ parents and the lack of Big Applesauce, Horace Green Prep is likely in one of the more well-to-do parts of Westchester County or Long Island.
  • Class Whatever: Summer. Complains when told that the class no longer has to do any schoolwork.
  • Coming of Age Story: The late bloomer variety for Dewey, he was pretty immature in the beginning as he slacks off during the day and so over the top with his performances that he was kicked out of No Vacancy for constantly ruining their chances of fame. When he finds out that the Class has the potential to be a great rock band, he begins teaching them about music and how to play instruments. Through the movie, he helps the kids with their self-esteem issues and he begins to see them as more than just the means to snub No Vacancy and win the prize money. Even though they lose the Battle of the Bands, they are intensely popular as the crowd demands an encore. In the end, Dewey repurposes his love of music by becoming an afterschool teacher. No Vacancy, on the other hand, didn't receive any glory in their victory as the crowd just boos them instead.
  • Cool Teacher: What Dewey eventually becomes.
  • Crack Defeat: The kids get beaten by No Vacancy (which just so happens to be the band that fired Dewey at the beginning of the movie), despite the entire crowd going crazy during their performance. They one-up the winners though, because the audience wants an encore.
  • Creator Cameo: When Dewey shows Ned a photograph of the band they used to be in together the third member is director Richard Linklater.
  • Credits Gag: The movie ends with the Battle of the Bands encore, a cover of AC/DC's "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll)," which transitions into a jam at Dewey's new apartment-based School of Rock as the credits roll over them. Eventually, Dewey starts acknowledging them, pointing to certain names and saying "I do not know that guy!" then telling the audience to clear out for the next screening.
  • Creative Closing Credits: The open credits appear as various posters and on people's shirts in the bar. The title appears as a neon sign.
  • Crowd Surfing: Dewey attempts this in the first scene while performing with No Vacancy. The crowd is much too sparse and disinterested to try to catch him and he crashes painfully to the floor. He tries again during the Battle of the Bands and succeeds to his obvious delight.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen:
    • Summer is initially snotty and stuck up, only concerned with her grades but comes to be friends with her classmates.
    • Ms. Mullins starts out very prim, but warms to Dewey (and Spider).
  • Department of Redundancy Department:
    • Dewey telling the kid's parents what he taught their kids goes something like this: "Math, science, uh.. geography, Latin, Spanish, French, Latin... did I say math already?"
    • "It will test your head, and your mind, and your brain."
  • Despair Event Horizon: Dewey falls into this late into the movie. See "The Reason The World Sucks" below. He gets better.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: Dewey is quite correct to tell Freddy that "Rock ain't about gettin' loaded and acting like a jerk.", and earlier when he tells Patty "Rockin' ain't no walk in the park, lady!".
    • He's also correct that the system that notes both merits and demerits for everyone to see is bullshit.
  • Dumb Is Good: Subverted with Summer. Her intelligence is presented as annoying at first but it ends up helping Dewey and the band out on several occasions and she ends up as band manager because she's much more competent than Dewey.
  • E = MC Hammer: Dewey writes E = mc on the board while pretending to teach the children something. Played with slightly in that he is totally clueless about teaching and this was presumably the only vaguely mathematical formula he could remember, and Mullins doesn't bat an eyelid when she walks into the room, even though the children are preteens.
    • Even funnier in the Broadway show, when they're in more of a hurry:
    And so E = McDoubled.
  • Epic Fail: Dewey's stage dive at the beginning. He knocks glasses out of a guy's hand and lands on the floor.
    Dewey: Whoa, nobody caught me. That was lame.
  • Epic Rocking: One of the reasons Dewey was fired from his band was because of his fondness for extremely self-indulgent guitar solos that would go on for 20 minutes.
  • Everybody Owns a Ford: All the parents' cars are Volvos. Probably done for laughs, not Product Placement, unless Volvo itself has a sense of humor about its stereotypical owners.
  • Every One Chasing You: After the parents take one of Dewey's remarks literally, see That Came Out Wrong below.
  • Expy: Jack Black is playing his character from Tenacious D, only without the constant swearing as the movie is PG-13.
  • Extreme Doormat: Ned, given that he's let Dewey mooch off of him for years and now dates the extremely domineering Patty. Eventually Dewey has some character development and makes it up to Ned, while Ned has some character development and dumps Patty.
  • Fantasy-Forbidding Father: Zack's dad. He comes across as overbearing, and doesn't allow him to play the electric guitar, calling it a waste of time.
  • Filming for Easy Dub: Instead of Jack Black, it's a guitar. In the climax of the film, Jack breaks out a guitar solo, but his guitar NEVER faces the camera, so you don't see the necessary hand movements to perform said solo. Possibly Lampshaded afterwards by Mullins asking him if that was really him playing. (It wasn't — the DVD commentaries reveal Jack Black doesn't really play electric guitar that wellnote . Most of the guitar playing his character did was actually him miming to a pre-recorded guitar track. He does occasionally play himself, though, such as when teaching Zack the riff to "Smoke on the Water" by Deep Purple.)
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: At the Parents' Night while Dewey is telling the parents about their children, he nervously looks in the hallway and sees Ned, his girlfriend and Ms. Mullins talking to police officers. This is after Dewey confessed to Ned that he's been impersonating him for money.
  • Flat "What": Dewey's reaction to Ned suggesting he should sell one of his guitars for rent money. However, we later see Dewey attempting to do just that, after he's kicked out of No Vacancy.
  • Flipping the Bird: When No Vacancy tell Dewey he's out of the band he responds by holding up three fingers and telling the lead singer to "read between the lines!"
  • Foreshadowing:
    • No Vacancy removes Dewey from the band for being a Large Ham and It's All About Me. Without him, they end up winning The Battle of the Bands.
    • Ned tells Dewey in their first scene together that if Dewey thinks Ned's job's so easy, he should try it. Come Dewey answering a call meant for Ned a few scenes later from Horace Green, and guess what happens?
    • Dewey tells Ned in their first scene to dump Patty, because of how she's a jerk to both of them. Ned eventually has enough of Patty and slams the door on her.
    • Dewey reiterates that one great rock show can change the world. The kids' show ends up changing their parents' mind, and Ms. Mullins, while furious with Dewey, tells him So Proud of You.
    • While talking to the other teachers, Dewey (still pretending to be Ned) gives the old adage "Those who can't do teach." Dewey doesn't achieve his dream of becoming a rock star, but finds more meaning teaching kids how to play rock music.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: At one point, during the rock class montage, Dewey draws a flowchart on the blackboard with the origins and development of rock and important artists that influenced the genre. Pausing the movie reveals how accurate the whole thing actually is.
  • Friend Versus Lover: Dewey (friend) and Patty (lover) both fight over Ned. He chooses Dewey.
  • From the Mouths of Babes: Dewey has priceless reactions on the words of the preteen kids. Summer's "I read about groupies, they're sluts!", Freddy's "Shut the hell up, Schneebly!", and Alicia's "I say let's get out of here and do the damn show" are famous examples.
    Dewey: What are the good things when you're in the rock band?
    Eleni: Getting wasted?
    Dewey: (bewildered) What? N... No!
  • Girlish Pigtails: Marta/Blondie, one of the back-up singers. She had them braided and below the jaw line in a dreary, bored fashion (the dull uniform doesn't help), until the very end at their concert where they're high up and loose.
  • Goggles Do Nothing: Freddy wears a pair during the Battle of the Bands, most likely for Rule of Cool.
  • Graceful Loser:
    • The kids take getting second place at the Battle of the Bands far better than Dewey, who honestly just wanted to one-up his former bandmates. Dewey eventually joins in their sentiment that they put on a good show, especially when the audience calls for an encore.
      Freddy: Rock isn't about getting an A. The Sex Pistols never won anything.
    • No Vacancy reads the room pretty quick and accepts their prize and modestly exits the stage when the crowd starts chanting for School of Rock to come back out. They knew they won, but the kids were the real winners with the crowd and they weren’t going to stand in the way.
  • Good-Times Montage: To the tune of "Bonzo Goes to Bitburg" by The Ramones.
  • Groupie: Dewey assigns three girls as "groupies" of the other band members (a G-rated version thankfully, as they are in charge of merchandise and branding). Summer, however, refuses to be a groupie when she discovers the R-rated meaning of the term, and she is instead given the role of band manager.
  • Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Ms. Mullins. Just add "Edge of Seventeen" as BGM.
  • Hard Truth Aesop: Passion will only take you so far, and having it isn't a guaranteed ticket for success—especially since music (and the arts in general) is an industry that requires people skills and the ability to read a room, not just a desire to create. Similarly—and as the end credits state—"it's a long way to the top." The School of Rock loses the Battle of the Bands, with Dewey's former group No Vacancy wins because they're more experienced and professional. That leads to another Hard Truth: sometimes a dream, like Dewey wanting to be a rock star, just doesn't work out, but it's still possible to find happiness and fulfillment in other ways, because Dewey finds a new passion in becoming an afterschool teacher and bandleader.
  • Hate Sink: As the film does not have a defined antagonist, Patty seems to function as this. She does have a few Jerkass Has a Point tendencies, but she is a pretty nasty girlfriend to Ned and even worse to Dewey.
  • Heel Realization:
    • The day the check arrives for Ned, not made out to cash, Dewey realizes he screwed up. It gets worse and worse and he admits he's a fraud and hurt his friend.
    • Zach's dad is shocked to learn that his son, who has been talking about music non-stop since Dewey showed up, wrote a rock song being played at the Battle of the Bands. He previously berated his son for focusing on music, but now...
  • Henpecked Husband: Ned is a henpecked boyfriend - he isn't married, but he's a complete pushover who is domineered by his overbearing girlfriend.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Dewey and Ned.
  • Hidden Depths: Dewey is a slacker and a Manchild, but he takes his ambitions to become a rock star completely seriously, as evidenced by his use of theory terms when teaching the kids "Smoke On The Water."
  • Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Summer. You didn't expect Miranda Cosgrove to sing badly, do you? The DVD commentaries tell us (and prove to us) that she actually sings really well, and she had to be taught how to sing badly.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Patty spends the entire film nagging Ned to stand up for himself. She just didn’t mean against her.
  • Hyper-Competent Sidekick: Summer once Dewey makes her the band manager. And she keeps the position when the band becomes an after-school program.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Ned's girlfriend claims he should stand up for himself, yet when she berates him for not doing so, he comes off as the bullied boyfriend. He does stand up for himself finally, when he slams the door on her.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: The kids' Bad "Bad Acting" for their "fatal illnesses" to get them into the Battle of the Bands.
  • Insistent Terminology: Ned is not a temp, he's a sub!
  • Insult Backfire: Frankie says "Ms. Mullins, you're The Man" and she replies "Thank you, Frankie" without knowing what they really mean. Frankie's snickering regardless of Ms. Mullins' response indicates that this was meant to be a Stealth Insult.
  • It's All About Me: Dewey at the beginning of the film. Overcoming it is part of his Character Development.
    Dewey: But, hey, it ain't my band, it's our band. You know my vote. Whadaya say?
  • Its Pronounced Tropay: Dewey tells his fellow teachers "It's pronounced Shnay-blay".
  • Jerkass: Patty. She even talks down to Ned at times.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • Patty is portrayed as a domineering girlfriend but she's not wrong about being angry at Dewey for abusing his friend's kindness to live rent free in their apartment while refusing to get a job. Furthermore, she's not wrong to be angry that Dewey's response to Ned finally trying to make Dewey pay the rent he owes was to impersonate Ned, committing fraud and possibly putting Ned's job in jeopardy while also originally not caring about the quality of education he was giving the kids.
      • Everything Patty nags Ned about is true. Especially about standing up for himself. She realizes too late that it applies to her as well.
    • Dewey also towards Patty for calling the cops on him at the school, not for his sake but for the kids, in that he wasn't able to tell the parents how great their kids were at music once the police outed him. It says something that during their fight Ned drops his Extreme Doormat personality and shouts at both of them.
    • The parents have a right to be concerned when they find out that a random stranger was posing as a substitute teacher and using their kids as musicians in a concert, even though their mass berating of Ms. Mullins causes her to have a minor breakdown.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Dewey. He's Brilliant, but Lazy, has been mooching off Ned for years and has no desire to get a real job. He also impersonates Ned just to he can avoid getting knocked out, which comes back to bite him later. He's also still a good friend to Ned by promising to pay him the money he owes him and urges him to dump Patty (for Ned's sake as well as his own), brings out the musical talent in the kids he teaches, tries to sort out some of their self-esteem issues and apologizes to the kids later that he used them for his own means.
  • Just Testing You: A Running Gag whenever Dewey says something that contradicts anything he said earlier:
    Dewey: Okay, people, pay attention cause I do not want to have to fail you!
    Summer: I thought you didn't believe in grades.
    Dewey: Of course, I believe in grades. I was testing you, and you passed. Good work, Summer; four and a half gold stars for you.
  • Karma Houdini: Dewey for impersonating Ned, even though the cops were called on him and Ned politely tells him to move out before the Battle of the Bands. The kids still come to rock in the after-school program, which allows him to fulfill his dreams while helping them out even though they lost the Battle of the Bands. This is justified in that Ned chose not to press charges against Dewey and leaves Patty.
  • Large Ham: Jack Black... what did you expect?
    • Freddie is the only kid in music class displaying any enthusiasm, and all they let him do is smash cymbals together.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Along with a handful of Hoist by His Own Petard. Patty berates Ned a lot and insults him for not sticking up for himself. It's not shocking that this eventually catches up to her.
  • Let's See YOU Do Better!: Dewey ridicules Ned's job as a substitute teacher as little more than being a babysitter. Ned responds by telling Dewey that if he think it's so easy, he should try it himself.
  • Littlest Cancer Patient: Exploited by Summer, who gets all the kids to act as though they are all terminal in order to earn them a spot at the Battle of the Bands.
  • Manchild: Dewey. He's an immature slacker who has no life outside of rock; however, it helps him find a common language with kids.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": The parents in the climax when after chewing out Ms. Mullins she has to tell them with a Broken Smile, "I've just been informed that all your children are missing."
  • Meaningful Echo: "One great rock show can change the world." Dewey says this to Freddy after another band invite him out to their van at the Battle of the Band auditions. Freddy repeats this line to Dewey to convince him to join them at Battle of the Bands.
  • Medium Awareness/No Fourth Wall: Only during the credits.
  • Mistaken for Pedophile: "I have been touched by your kids... and I'm pretty sure I've touched them."
  • Mouthy Kid: Freddy. Dewey had to save his skin at one point.
  • Mouthing the Profanity: Ms. Mullins' drunken rant about the pressures of being principal ends with her mouthing the word "bitch" instead of saying it out loud.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Dewey's replacement in No Vacancy wears a "shirt" that is only sleeves and has a sculpted physique, such that Ros is ... Distracted by the Sexy when he seriously hits on her.
  • Nice Guy: Ned, in contrast to his girlfriend Patty.
  • The Nicknamer: Dewey comes up with nicknames for all the kids, originally due to the fact that he can't be bothered to learn their names. However, Dewey gives Lawrence the nickname "Mr. Cool" after they have a conversation where Lawrence admits he feels like he's not cool enough to be in a band.
  • No Antagonist: The film has no defined bad guy. The ones who comes closest have some good intentions, or at least a good point:
    • Dewey's old band mates fire him from the band only because his behavior on stage is truly embarrassing and is in the way of the band's success.
    • Mullins enforces a strict code for the school because of the pressure from the over-protective parents. That said, the parents only act the way they do because they want quality education for their children, and they are rightfully upset that their kids were taught by an unqualified substitute teacher.
    • Patty might be an overly domineering girlfriend to Ned, but she is right when she says that Dewey needs to pay the rent on the apartment, because he'll be evicted if he doesn't.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Dewey teaches at Horace Green, an expensive prep school. This is a stand in for the prestigious Horace Mann.
  • No Full Name Given:
    • All of the kids except for Freddy, Summer and Zack.
    • Theo and Spider, Dewey's old bandmate and the one who replaced him.
  • No Name Given: All of the kids' parents. They're referred to as "X's Mom/Dad".
  • Nobody Poops: Averted. Dewey is in the men's room standing at a urinal when he hears the kids playing their instruments in music class. His first rant to the kids is that he has a headache and the runs and they need to just have recess and leave him alone.
  • Nothing but Hits: The soundtrack contains classic rock by the boatload. Justified, as they are used to teach the kids how to rock.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Dewey has a small one when the kids ask to hear his song... which he hasn't written yet.
    • Dewey twice during the parents evening. The first one comes when he sees the police outside the classroom, and realizing they were called on him. The second one comes after the pun that makes the parents think he is a paedophile. The look on his face says it all. Right before a Screw This, I'm Outta Here moment.
    • The substitute teacher who comes in the next day and finds her charges missing, because they've gone to the Battle of the Bands. She runs around frantically wondering where they are.
  • Papa Wolf: After seeing their kids perform a killer song at the Battle of the Bands, Lawrence and Zack's dads lead the chant, "SCHOOL OF ROCK, SCHOOL OF ROCK!" when No Vacancy wins the prize and the $20,000 dollar check.
    • When Dewey learns that Freddy took off with some random guys to hang out in a van his concern and panic is obviously for Freddy’s safety and he reams everyone involved.
  • Pass the Popcorn: Ned at the climax decides that, after the kids pick up Dewey and convince him to do the Battle of the Bands with them, to go and see the show, even inviting Patty along. He may as well see where the ride ends, having seen the tail end of it. He's disappointed along with the crowd when No Vacancy wins.
  • Product Placement: Most of the instruments in this movie are made by Gibson, although some from other companies like Fender and Washburn show up as well. Also, all of the parents' cars, as seen a few times, are Volvos.
  • Profound by Pop Song: Dewey convinces the school faculty that he doesn't believe in standardized testing by quoting Whitney Houston's "Greatest Love of All": "I believe the children are our future, but you've got to let them lead the way! Let the children's laughter remind us of how we used to be. That's what I decided long ago." Only one teacher gets suspicious that those may be song lyrics.
  • The Power of Rock
  • Precision F-Strike: Courtesy of Alicia after Dewey is outed as a fraud and the kids are stuck in school the day they're supposed to perform: "I say let's get out of here and do the damn show".
    • "Now may I please have the attention of the class... Today's assignment... Kick some ass!"
  • "The Reason The World Sucks" Speech:
    "Here's a useful lesson for ya: Give up. Just quit. Because in this life, you can't win. Oh 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? Oh, he's everywhere! In the White House, down the hallMs. Mullins, she's the Man. And the Man ruined the ozone; and 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!!"
  • Recycled In Space: Mr. Holland's Opus... with a really bad teacher.
  • Refuge in Audacity: A bunch of kids break out of school, hijack a bus, convince their worthless drunk of a teacher to fulfill his felony, then scream at an audience that this week's ASSignment is to KICK SOME ASS. If it wasn't rock, this wouldn't work.
  • Right Behind Me: Two guys mock and insult Dewey behind his back after seeing one of his "Dewey Finn Wants You" posters, and after they walk away, Dewey is revealed standing only a few feet away and not looking too happy about what he just heard.
  • The Roadie: The various classmates who did not become a part of the band were assigned the roles of roadies and groupies (albeit a PG-rated equivalent, mainly logistics and merchandise).
  • Rock'n'Roll Teacher: Dewey.
  • Rummage Sale Reject: A lot of the kids' costumes during the climactic show end up looking like this.
  • Sassy Black Girl: Alicia.
  • Save Our Students: Played with. The kids didn't really need saving, but a fair few of them come out happier than they ever were. Lawrence, Freddie and Zack agree that even though "Mr. S" lied to them and used them for a rock show, their three weeks of "vacation" weren't a waste of time.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Not long after this line by Dewey: "I have been touched by your kids. And I'm pretty sure I've touched them." Coupled with Oh, Crap! and That Came Out Wrong.
    • Ned eventually has enough of Patty berating him one time too many when he decides he wants to go to the Battle of the Bands to see Dewey perform. While she's in mid-sentence, he simply rolls his eyes and storms out, slamming the door on her.
  • Second Place Is for Winners: Sure, Dewey's old band wins the $20,000 dollar check and first prize, but the kids' parents and Ms. Mullins are blown away by their performance, ensuring that they will continue to rock together, and the audience asks them to come out for an encore song.
  • Serious Business: Dewey: "One great rock show can change the world." Freddy even names the trope later on in the climax.
  • She's All Grown Up: All of the kids at a reunion concert.
  • Ship Tease: Dewey gets a lot with Ros, taking her on not a date and getting her to open up by getting her a little drunk and playing Stevie Nicks. Later she asks him to come to Parent's Night to support her and says "It's not a date...".
  • Shout-Out: Possibly with Freddy, his last name is Jones. Although when most people think of a Freddy (Freddie) associated with rock, they might think of Queen. And maybe (Steve) Jones.
  • Silly Prayer: Dewey and the kids engage in a group prayer before going onstage for Battle of the Bands.
    Dewey: God of Rock, thank you for this chance to kick ass. We are your humble servants. Please give us the power to blow people's minds with our high-voltage rock. In your name we pray. Amen.
    Kids: Amen.
  • The Slacker: Dewey.
  • Something-itis: Dewey Finn says the children are suffering from "stick-it-to-the-man-eosis" to win the sympathy of the Battle of the Bands judges.
  • Spiky Hair: Freddie adopts this style when he discovers punk music.
  • Start My Own: After Dewey is kicked out of No Vacancy, he announces he will start his own band. He has little success until he gets to Horace Green, where he finds the class he is substitute teacher for are very musically talented.
  • Stealth Insult:
    • Dewey telling Ned that he'll "throw [him] and [his] dog (Patty) a bone." He's basically calling Patty a bitch.
    • Frankie telling Ms. Mullins, "You're the man!"
  • Stepford Smiler: Ms. Mullins is an arguable inversion as she is forced to act like a strict authority figure when inside she longs to be able to have fun and be funny. She still fits the basic trope, though, as she puts on a face of being together and happy in her job when deep down, she's suffering. The mask breaks when the parents chew her out in the climax, and she puts herself in the corner on the stairwell.
  • The Stinger: At some point after the Battle of the Bands, Dewey opens up an after school program called the School of Rock, where he continues coaching the students he played with, accompanied by Ned who is coaching young beginners.
  • Suddenly Shouting: Dewey's line to Theo while holding up his hand in a stealthily way of flipping him off: "Read between the lines, Theo. Read between the LINES!".
  • Sure, Let's Go with That: When the crowd demands an encore, Dewey has to tell the kids what's happened and that the band has to go back out. He starts to object when all the kids rush on stage, but then he just runs with it, because they've all earned it and that's pretty goddamn rock.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • At the audition for Battle of the Bands, Dewey is furious to find he and the kids have gotten there too late, and when he talks to the man in charge, he throws a chair, gets in his face and shouts at him. The man in charge simply tells his assistant to call security and have them thrown out.
    • When the parents and Mullins get to Battle of the Bands after finding out that Dewey has taken their kids there to play the show, they are initially refused entry because they don't have tickets and, as far as the ticket checker knows, this is just a random group of people trying to get past him without paying.
    • A rock band of children competes in the Battle of Bands with professional musicians. The audience loves them, but they're not the ones judging the actual contest, and Dewey's old band No Vacancy ends up taking first place.
    • The first responsible adult to find out what Dewey is doing immediately calls the cops, and rightly so. What he did was fraud and child endangerment. The administration and parents are equally furious.
  • Take That!:
    • Freddy asks Katie to name "three great chick drummers." She mentions Meg White, to which Freddy replies, flabbergasted, "She can't drum!"
    • And the above quoted slam against MTV, saying their corporate crap ruined rock. And the line is always left in when they air it.
    • Dewey's look of disgust after Summer sings a couple of (very off-key) bars of "Memory". Andrew Lloyd Webber had enough of a sense of humor about it to leave it in for the musical.
    • In-Universe, the song Dewey initially intends to sing at the Battle of the Bands is a rant directed at his former bandmates for kicking him out. He ends up dropping the idea in favor of Zach's lyrics.
  • That Came Out Wrong: When Dewey is trying to explain to the parents of his students about how what he's doing is good, and says "I have been touched by your kids... and I'm pretty sure I've touched them." Cue horrified looks all around, and cut to Dewey running through the halls, with the parents chasing after him.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone:
    • Dewey all but names the trope at the start of the film when he says he will pay Ned and Patty when No Vacancy wins Battle of the Bands. Also, at the end of the same scene when Ned pressures him to pay him at least some of the money he owes him, Dewey agrees to do it if only for Ned.
    • The Battle of the Band officials allow Dewey and the kids to play because they believe the kids to be terminally ill.
  • Title Drop: It's the name of the band, repeated with great emphasis by Jack Black. It's also the name of the song the band plays at the Battle of the Bands.
  • The Pete Best: In-Universe, Dewey is this to No Vacancy but subverted when he forms a band with the kids..
  • The Trickster: Dewey is a classical example of this. He steals Ned’s identity and takes a job working at Horace Green, where to keep his job, he must maintain the appearance of teaching in a classroom through tricks. He also challenges authority and encourages this from his students but ultimately imparts important life lessons about collaboration and self-expression to the kids. Dewey is eventually caught for his transgressions but unlike other examples, he learns from his mistakes.
  • Uncle Sam Wants You: Parodied with Dewey's "Dewey Finn Wants You" posters, which has an image of Dewey pointing at the viewer amid a caption reading "Dewey Finn Wants You For The Most Rocking Band Ever!!!"
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Ultimately, School of Rock doesn't win the battle of the bands. They're amazing, especially for kids (and director Linklater insisted they actually be able to play their musical parts), but No Vacancy was technically a more proficient band with a better chance of commercial success.
  • Verbal Backspace: Dewey to Mullins in the bar scene. She refers to him as "Mr Schneebly", to which he replies, "Please, call me Dewey." When she's confused, he corrects himself by saying, "Call me Ned", passing off Dewey as his middle name.
  • Waxing Lyrical:
    • When Dewey is trying to bluff his way through a conversation with teachers while posing as a substitute, starts reciting snatches from Whitney Houston's "Greatest Love of All". Someone asks "Isn't that a song?", and he denies it.
    • His Rousing Speech concludes "We roll tonight to the guitar bite, and for those about to rock, I salute you", from AC/DC's "For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)".
  • What the Hell, Hero?: The second act ends with two.
    • Everyone tells Dewey how badly he fucked up, hurting Ned's reputation with a serious fraud, including justifiably calling the police. Even Dewey has to admit he's a liar and a fraud who hurt his friend.
    • The kids' parents have a mass scream at Roz for having let Dewey into the school and done who knows what with their children for weeks.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Played with. At the Battle of the Bands, School of Rock wow the crowd with Zack's song, but Dewey's old band, No Vacancy, end up winning. The kids tell Dewey they did a good show regardless of whether they won or not, and the crowd then start chanting the band's name, making Dewey realize the crowd wants an encore.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Dewey to all of the kids, at some point or another, and in the climax they return the favor by encouraging him to do the show with them:
    • He comforts Tomika when she suffers an internal crisis about performing because she's self-conscious about her weight and looks.
    • He also encourages Lawrence when he says that he thinks he's not cool enough to be in a band, even nicknaming him "Mr. Cool" as a sign of respect.
    • Dewey towards Freddie when another band wants to recruit him for the auditions.
    • Dewey has to reassure Gordon that he can improvise the light show to match the changed song at the end.
  • You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!: One of the two guys who see Dewey's audition posters responds to it by saying this.

Tropes For the Stage Play

  • Adaptational Alternate Ending: Rather than start their own after-school program, Ms. Mullins and the parents agree that Dewey can be a "music coach" for the kids after their classes, hiring him for real.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The show goes deeper into the backgrounds of the kids (i.e. Billy comes from a family of masculine football players, Freddy's dad constantly berates for not doing as well as his classmates, etc.) We also see Ned rocking out with Dewey, showing they are genuine friends and that Ned's rock passions are there.
  • Adaptational Heroism: In "You're in the Band" Dewey allows the kids who aren't instrumentalists to volunteer for the non-music positions, and makes Summer the manager instead of giving her the role to placate her.
  • Adaptational Sexuality: Tomika's parents were her biological mother and father in the movie, but are a gay couple in the show (although, presumably, either​ could be her biological parent).
  • Adults Are Useless: The "Listen" song features several of the kids trying to communicate with their parents, who are too wrapped up with other matters to notice.
  • Ascended Extra: Billy is more prominent here and gets a "Gender-Normative Parent" Plot.
  • Heel Realization: Dewey gets one when Ned bluntly tells him that impersonating him could have cost Ned his teaching license and apartment. Yes, he mooches off Ned but he never meant to hurt him that badly.
  • Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Averted for Summer, since all of the kids are singing at Broadway professional levels. Dewey makes her the manager off the bat since he recognizes her smarts.
  • Parents as People: In "If Only You Would Listen," it's obvious that all the kids' parents love them but don't click with them. Billy is hurt that his dad doesn't want him to read Vogue and makes him watch a game; Tomika's parents are Innocently Insensitive about how she's not "fitting in" and are an overprotective pair; Zack's dad doesn't want to spend time with him. After they see the rock performance, it seems all their relationships will improve for the better.
  • Promoted to Love Interest: Ms. Mullins for Dewey. She even stops him from being arrested for fraud by claiming he's a music instructor at the school.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: When Ned receives a check from a school where he's never taught, he tries to call them about it. He's rocked to find out that Dewey was impersonating him.
  • Spit Take: Dewey when he realizes that parent/teacher night is the same night as the Battle of the Bands.
  • When She Smiles: Both Zack and Freddy after they realize they can play rock music have gigantic, awed grins on their faces.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: In "You're in the Band," Dewey convinces a nervous Lawrence that he can play the keyboard. Lawrence protests that he can't because he only has classical training, but Dewey has him try out a riff, which he sails through with ease.


Video Example(s):


Dewey Finn

In the opening, we are introduced to him mid-song with the rest of No Vacancy. While the rest of the band are just playing the song, Dewey over-enthusiastically dances around and riffs a guitar solo as the rest of the band (and the audience) exhaustingly wait for him to finish. Then he takes off his shirt and throws himself into a stage-dive, only to fall flat on his face when he lands on the floor. This gives us a pretty good idea of what he's like: a Large Ham who's enthusiastic about Hard Rock, but he cannot read the room and ends up acting like an Attention Whore in the process.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / EstablishingCharacterMoment

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