I'm feeling pretty good these days. Martin Scorsese won an Oscar for a first-rate piece of entertainment, March Madness and the 2007 MLB season are not too far away, James Cameron claims to have found Jesus (and not in the born-again way, either), and I just watched another great documentary called Rock School. I've watched it three times now, once with the director, producer and editor's commentary, and, ladies and gents, it's a real winner.
Remember School of Rock's end credit sequence where Jack Black is teaching kids from his apartment? Well, that's kind of what Rock School is, only it's real. Kids ages 9 to 17 enter Paul Green's Rock School hoping to learn the power of music and how to become masterful musicians. Green calls himself "a natural teacher," and it is clear he is passionate (if not more than a little egocentric) about both music and his students. The film tracks several concerts the students participate in up until the crowd-pleasing climax where the kids voyage to a Frank Zappa festival in Germany, performing some incredibly tough songs. And these kids -- to use the phrase -- "rock"!
Now, those of you out there who think this is a nice touchy-feely doc to show the kids in your average music class, be warned. Did I mention the film is rated R? You will be shocked by the amount of profanity Green spews out in front of or directed at the kids. Director Don Argott found a gold mine when he chose to document not only the school, but Paul Green the man. The guy is a fascinating character for all his flaws. He's really a man-child, and he behaves almost more like an annoying older brother than your standard school teacher. On one of the deleted scenes available on the DVD, a kid's mom calls Green semi-angry because he markered a Hitler mustache over her child's upper lip. Green thought it was hilarious, and when the mom calls him about it, he's like a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar. It was all a big goof, but he knows he crossed the line.
In a way, he reminds me of the great basketball coach Bob Knight. Knight cares about his players, particularly how they play and how they do in school. He doesn't just coach players. He raises them. But he tends to cross the line from time to time. The same goes for Paul Green, and the film shows that parents must choose to take the bad with the good when it comes to the successful teacher. The way I see it, Green is a maniac, but I wouldn't hesitate sending my kids to his school. Just no mustaches, Paul.- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Dre writes five times a week for Film.com, covering movies and DVD with his Floridian flare. E-mail him!