Broadly speaking, this 2003 comedy is Richard Linklater's French Cancan—that is to say, a humanist's joyful exploration of the musical in which the actors' personalities resonate as much as the characters they play. Or maybe it's what Jean Renoir might have come up with if he'd remade Don't Knock the Rock and cast fifth-graders as the musicians. Though this seems like a personal film, Linklater was hired to direct a cannily commercial script by Mike White, about a rock 'n' roll loser (Jack Black) who, fired from his job and his band, impersonates his wimpy substitute-teacher roommate (White) to land a teaching position at an upscale elementary school. This infantile character hasn't got a thought in his head except for rock music, but somehow he becomes a model teacher, and through stealth and sheer perseverance he turns his class into an inspired gang of rockers. The kids, all real musicians performing, are wonderful, and so is Black; Joan Cusack is both charming and funny as the principal.
Director: Richard Linklater
Writer: Mike White
Producer: Scott Rudin, Steve Nicolaides and Scott Aversano
Cast: Jack Black, Joan Cusack, Mike White, Sarah Silverman, Jordan-Claire Green, Veronica Afflerbach, Miranda Cosgrove, Robert Tsai, Angelo Massagli, Kevin Clark, Maryam Hassan, Caitlin Hale, Cole Hawkins, Brian Falduto, James Hosey, Aleisha Allen, Zachary Infante, Joey Gaydos Jr. and Rebecca Brown