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Black plays struggling rock singer and guitarist Dewey Finn, who is kicked out of his band and subsequently disguises as a substitute teacher at a prestigious prep school. After witnessing the musical talent in his students in their music class, Dewey forms a band of fourth-graders to attempt to win the upcoming Battle of the Bands and pay off his rent.
School of Rock was released on October 3, 2003 by Paramount Pictures, grossing $131 million worldwide on a $35 million budget. It was the highest grossing musical comedy of all time until it was overtaken in 2015 by Pitch Perfect 2. A stage musical adaptation opened on Broadway in December 2015, and a television adaptation for Nickelodeon premiered on March 12, 2016.
No Vacancy, a rock band, performs at a nightclub three weeks before auditioning for the Battle of the Bands. Guitarist Dewey Finn creates on-stage antics, including a stage dive that abruptly ends the performance. The next morning, Dewey wakes in the apartment he lives in with Ned Schneebly and Ned's domineering girlfriend, Patty Di Marco. They inform Dewey he must either make up for his overdue share of the rent or move out. When Dewey meets No Vacancy at a rehearsal session, he is informed that he has been fired from the band and replaced by another guitarist named Spider. Later, while trying to sell some of his equipment for rent money, Dewey answers a phone call from Rosalie Mullins, the principal of the Horace Green prep school, inquiring for Ned about a short-term position as a substitute teacher. Desperate for money, Dewey impersonates Ned and is hired. On his first day at the school, Dewey adopts the name "Mr. S" (as he doesn't know how to spell Schneebly) and spends his first day behaving erratically, much to the class's confusion.
The next day, Dewey overhears a music class and devises a plan to form them into a new band to audition for Battle of the Bands. He casts Zack Mooneyham as lead guitarist, Freddy Jones as drummer, cello player Katie on bass, Lawrence on keyboard, and himself as lead vocalist and guitarist. He assigns the rest of the class to various roles of backup singers, groupies, roadies, with Summer Hathaway as band manager. The project takes over normal lessons, but helps the students to embrace their talents and overcome their problems. He reassures Lawrence, who is worried about not being cool enough for the band, Zack, whose overbearing father disapproves of rock, and Tomika, an overweight girl who is too self-conscious to even audition for backup singer despite an amazing voice. During one eloquent lesson, he teaches the kids that rock and roll is the way to "Stick it to the Man" and stand up for themselves. Band "groupies" Michelle and Eleni, with Summer's approval, pitch the band name "The School of Rock."
Two weeks into his hiring, Dewey sneaks his key band members out of school to audition for Battle of the Bands while the rest of the class stay behind to maintain cover. After Freddy wanders off, Dewey retrieves him but the group is rejected because the bill is full. After Summer tricks the staff into thinking that the band have a terminal illness, the band is auditioned. The next day, Rosalie decides to check on Dewey's teaching progress, forcing Dewey to teach the actual material. Rosalie explains that a parents' night will take place at the school the day before Battle of the Bands, rendering Dewey somewhat concerned.
As Dewey prepares for the parents' night, Ned receives a paycheck from the school via mail, soon realizing that Dewey impersonated him. During the parents' meeting, the parents question what Dewey was teaching the kids until Ned, Patty, and the police confront him. With Rosalie bursting in to question what is going on, Dewey reveals his true identity and admits he's not a licensed teacher, causing him to become sacked. Back home, he and Patty argue. Ned intervenes and suggests that Dewey should move out.
The next morning, the parents go on an uproar in front of Rosalie at her office, while the kids decide not to let their hard work go to waste. When the new substitute discovers that the kids are missing, she informs Rosalie, and Rosalie and the parents race to Battle of the Bands. A school bus comes to pick up Dewey, who leads the kids to the competition and decides that they play the song written by Zack earlier in the film. Initially dismissed as a gimmick, the band wins over the entire crowd. Much to Dewey's disappointment, No Vacancy wins, and this prompts the audience to chant for School of Rock and demand an encore.
Some time later, an after school program known as the School of Rock has opened as Dewey continues to coach the students he played with before while Ned teaches beginners.
- There was going to be a sequel within adaptation, although it was never made.
- Jack Black revealed the title to be "School of Rock 2: American Dreams", although it never happened because the original producer and director declined.
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