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On the morning of Election Day 2016, Americans of all stripes woke up and went about living their lives. These were the hours leading up to Donald Trump's unexpected, earth-shaking victory, but, of course, no one knew that yet.
The hard part about writing this review is separating my feelings about this man (Paul Green), his school (The School of Rock in Philadelphia), and the documentary about both (Rock School). Paul is an arrogant, selfish, and demeaning man, but his school produces some incredible talent, and the movie that director Don Argott made is clever, witty, and downright funny.
Paul Green's "School of Rock" has 120 students, ages 9 through 17, who learn to play everything from Black Sabbath to Frank Zappa, and most importantly, Paul gets his students on stage and teaches them how to perform like a rock star. But he's horrible. He's like Simon Cowell in that really mean and insulting kind of way. But perhaps that kind of cruelty pushes them to work even harder and practice more to perfect their craft. He does everything that any other teacher today would instantly get sued for he curses at them, yells at them, makes them cry, hits them, tells them that they "suck," and asks them if they love Satan (he does that to pump them up for the Black Sabbath concert they're about to put on).
It's endlessly amusing to watch 9 year-olds wear all black, smear eyeliner all over their eyes, draw crosses on their foreheads, and write "OZZY" on their knuckles. And to see their mom doing all that for them is even funnier! The coolest moment of Rock School, however, is when the very top students are flown to Germany to play at "Zappanele", the largest Frank Zappa Festival in the world, and they perform with an original member of Zappa's band. Then, to have the original band member, plus the entire Zappanele audience, blow before them in praise (literally bowing!) was out of this world! Not every music student gets an experience like that.
Argot does a great job at showing us all sides of Paul Green's personality. I hate him in one scene and love what he does for these kids in the next. If Rock School does anything, it will make you want to get off your butt and start practicing what ever it is that you love. You'll want to pick up an instrument, or start painting, or get back to studying. This movie makes you want to be the best at something, and it makes you want to work for it.
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