Don Argott’s debut doc shouldn’t be confused with the Richard Linklater feel-good comedy in which Jack Black gatecrashes a school to teach the kids the art of rock. Rather, consider this the real deal: a no-holds-barred, fly-on-the-wall glimpse of the hilarious goings-on behind the doors of Paul Green’s Philadelphia-based School of Rock Music. Green started teaching the rock school in his home in 1999. The failed guitarist acts as a rock ’n’ roll mentor to a group of misfit nine-to-17-year-olds, and his immature method of ‘getting down to the kids’ level’, combined with his infectious enthusiasm, proved such a hit that the whole outfit soon moved to a new building, filled with all of the necessary accoutrements of rock. Rock, of course, is the operative word: no insipid ‘X-Factor’ pop fromage here; this is strictly vintage stuff, replete with the obligatory riffs and power chords. Led Zep, Sabbath, the Floyd and Zappa figure strongly, with Green encouraging the kids to copy their influential works note for note. It’s impressive to see tweenie CJ ripping up and down the fretboard with gusto, although you do wonder whether he’ll be leaving this school with his own stamp or someone else’s; some of the other kids show so little natural aptitude for music that you wonder whether they might be heading for a reality fall of their own. Argott drops the ball continuity-wise from time to time, but this is tempered by the kids’ unintentionally jocular anecdotes and Green’s mad-as-a-hatter persona.
Friday September 9 2005