|Rock School (2005)
Starring: Paul Green, C.J. Tywoniak, Napoleon Murphy-Brock
Director: Don Argott
“Rock School” opens with a sick guitar solo by C.J. Tywoniak, a 12 year-old musical prodigy that leaves one’s mouth agape. At 12 years-old, C.J. is already a better guitar player than many featured in famous rock bands today. Tywoniak is a student at the Paul Green School of Rock Music in Philadelphia, PA, the subject of this entertaining documentary.
Paul Green and the school, which now has locations in several areas of the country was, of course, the influence and inspiration for the hilarious and brilliant “School of Rock,” starring Jack Black. Unlike Black’s quirky family-friendly Dewey Finn, however, Paul Green is a ranting and raving, foul-mouthed jerk; hence the film’s ‘R’ rating. Not the least bit apprehensive or inhibited by the rolling cameras, there are numerous points throughout “Rock School” where the red-faced Paul Green is seen screaming at teenagers with children as young as 8 years-old looking on. While it would be easy to berate Green as much he seemingly does his students, “Rock School” makes it a point to stress that each student is dealt with in a way that works best for them. Each kid is asked what it is they want out of the school, whether it is to become a legend as C.J. wants and seems on track to be, or whether they are just there to have a good time.
For the most part, “Rock School,” directed by first-timer Don Argott, is a fun and informative look into a unique educational program. Perhaps a better and more interesting film may have had less focus on Green, and more of an analytical and emotionally investing look into the lives of the students. The movie does delve somewhat into the kid’s lives, but ultimately lacks an adequate story of how those lives have been affected, for better or worse, by the school.
But there is no denying one is having a good time, as “Rock School” culminates with some of the more advanced students performing a concert at “Zappanale”, an outdoor Frank Zappa tribute festival in Germany. Playing some of the hardest songs in rock, the kids give it their all, not only in front of fans of the music, but with former Zappa band members looking on and performing with them as well. As 9 year-old Tucker Collins says at the end of the film, “Long live rock n’ roll!”
The DVD release of "Rock School" features an audio commentary with director Don Argott, producer Sheena Joyce, and editor Demian Fenton, as well as a handful of uninspiring deleted scenes.