Sunday, August 11, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—The School of Rock (2003) ***½

PG-13, 106 min.
Director: Richard Linklater
Writer: Mike White
Starring: Jack Black, Joan Cusack, Miranda Cosgrove, Joey Gaydos Jr., Kevin Clark, Jordan Claire-Green, Veronica Afflerbach, Robert Tsai, Angelo Massagli, Maryam Hassan, Caitlin Hale, Cole Hawkins, Brian Falduto, James Hosey, Aleisha Allen, Zachary Infante, Rebecca Brown, Jaclyn Neidenthal, Mike White, Sarah Silverman, Kimberly Grigsby, Lee Wilkhof, Kate McGregor-Stewart, Wally Dunn, Tim Hooper, Suzzanne Douglas, Frank Whaley

I’ve written about what a wonderful learning movie this is before. It is a formula movie that hits all the right notes and it hits them well, so you can forgive the formula. Jack Black is a force of nature in his prime, before people began to grow weary of his shtick. And it just makes you want to rock, which is a pretty big win considering the movie’s subject matter.

What I’d like to discuss is the MPAA’s ridiculous ruling that this movie should be rated PG-13. The ratings system has always been fairly arbitrary, but usually a pattern of some sort can be discerned. Here, I just don’t know what they were thinking. This is a PG movie all the way down the line. Yes, it contains scenes of adults acting like adults in club situations because of the nature of the music business, but even in the bar scenes there is no offensive material to be found what-so-ever. Sure, the word “ass” is used several times and in different variations. Doesn’t that mean donkey, too? OK, a few times Black is actually referring to his posterior, but c’mon, ass? Really?!  And, the word “bitch” is mouthed in one of the funniest moments of the movie by the last person you’d expect to use it and referring to herself.

The only reason I can come up with that the MPAA felt this might be inappropriate to anyone under the age of 13 is that the filmmakers do show the consumption of alcoholic beverages. According to the MPAA, their reasoning for the older age rating is “for some rude humor and drug references”. Perhaps I’m missing any drug references beyond “alcoholism” or maybe that’s what they’re citing. It’s hardly a real issue in the film, however. It’s merely mentioned, not depicted. Other movies have portrayed far worse to a family audience. As far as the “some rude humor”, that’s a minor distinction compared to movies like “Shrek” or “Daddy Day Care”.

The fact is this is a family friendly film that focuses on the education of 10-year-olds. Shouldn’t 10-year-olds be allowed to see it? It impresses the importance of a well-rounded education for all kids in an age when even children who are more privileged are seeing the arts removed from their school curriculums. It highlights the importance of pursuing every avenue of education and searching out what passions inspire students. These are good things for our children to be exposed to. I just showed this movie to my own children; and my oldest, who will have to take up an instrument for band in his new wonderful school, is suddenly excited at the prospect of playing a musical instrument. Perhaps the MPAA allowed their right-winged beliefs that arts have no place in a worthwhile education skew their judgment on the appropriateness of this material for children. Just another example of how “the man is keeping you down.”

No comments: