SCHOOL OF ROCK

Paramount Home Video, $19.95

The Hubble is still discovering new galaxies at the ever-shifting boundaries of our universe, but a nicked-up garage-sale cymbal head could give us all the reflection of Jack Black's range that we're ever gonna need. He's a little bit pork, a little bit pratfall, all rawk and roooooolllll.

We're reminded of this—constantly —in the lukewarm Rock (on DVD March 2), inexplicably one of the best-reviewed films of last year. Just recall Rock's intrinsic thematic hypocrisy: Substitute teacher Black manically encourages private-school drones to join his band and "stick it to the man," while this evil, creativity-stifling "man" would be known in the corporate arena as Viacom, parent to Paramount. Logical quibbles aside, the film's triumph only irked a few critics because, well, its lead is just so damn genial, as illustrated by this single disc's copious extras.

Of course, none of Black's increasingly grating Tenacious Truffle Shuffle theatrics can distract us from the thorough dulling of director Richard Linklater's subversive eye. (The two share a commentary track.) Much is made via DVD-ROM of Black's chalkboard "rock and roll family tree," on which cast and crew collaborated, striving for the utmost accuracy . . . and which received a grand total of five seconds on-screen.

Admittedly, Rock is no Lester Bangs essay; it's not nearly as inventive or spirited. Despite Linklater's avowed desire to avoid all things "cute," his movie is simply about wee ones learning to play bass, rock ax, and organ for Black's AC/DC knockoff. Glossy MTV shorts delineate how each already gifted young performer was encouraged to "play worse" during the band's inception. Too bad their characters are as unmemorable as any in Kindergarten Cop. At least a few of Black's riffs stick, but for once could the guy just turn his amp down from 11? Andrew Bonazelli

Turning Up on March 16, Girls Will Be Girls is a tepid drag comedy in the Jacqueline Susann mode; Alan Parker adds a commentary to a two-disc set of his 1991 The Commitments; and Mike Myers' shamefully bad The Cat in the Hat slinks onto DVD. Thoroughly depressing but worth another look is Alejandro González Iñárritu's 21 Grams, which features the other excellent performance by Sean Penn last year (and Oscar nominated co-stars Benicio Del Toro and Naomi Watts are damn fine, too); no extras, disappointingly, on that. Eds.

dvd@seattleweekly.com

 
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