‘School of Rock: 20th Anniversary Limited Edition Steelbook’ 4K ultra HD movie review

The musical comedy that helped launch Jack Black into pop stardom celebrates two decades of rocking with an ultra-high definition disc release encased in metal in School of Rock: 20th Anniversary Limited Edition Steelbook (Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment, rated TV-MA, 2.00:1 aspect ratio, 465 minutes, $31.99).

Director Richard Linklater’s amusing classic takes viewers into the world of aging rocker and premier slacker Dewey Finn (Mr. Black) as he gets tossed out of his local metal bar band No Vacancy.

Short on money to pay rent to his sheepish roommate Ned (Mike White), now emboldened by an overbearing girlfriend (Sarah Silverman), Dewey impersonates Ned and weasels his way into the Horace Green prep elementary school and lands a job as a substitute teacher.

The class of snooty but talented tweens gets his brand of curriculum, only focused on rock music, with an ultimate goal of selfishly building a musical ensemble to compete in a battle of the bands and show up his former group.

However, his rebellious plot can only work if he can sneak around strait-laced school principal, Roz Mullins (Joan Cusack).

Mr. Black’s infectious, explosive energy dominates the movie.

Moments such as his solo performance of an original song will cause eyes to water, and his chemistry with the talented young actors, including Miranda Cosgrove (in her film debut), is endearing.

Equally impactful is the soundtrack filled with classic rock songs including AC/DC’s “For Those About to Rock (We Salute You),” Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love,” Stevie Nicks’ “Edge of Seventeen” and David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream.”

Laugh out loud musical moments include Dewey singing The Doors “Touch Me” accompanied by the young Asian keyboardist (Robert Tsai) in the band and Dewey’s emotional vocal performance of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song.”

Families loving rock music will appreciate the education.

4K in action: The 2160p screen-filling presentation now maintains crisp visuals, and a high dynamic range and enhanced color pallet consistent that never oversaturates the original source material.

Primarily shot in a school classroom or an apartment, the 4K only shines when highlighting the final concert with swirling colors and lasers and some outlandish onstage costuming.

Best extras: The digital package gets duplicated from the 2003 DVD release, and all arrives contained on the 4K disc.

The collection features a pair of optional commentary tracks that work in tandem to highlight the entire production.

In the first track, immediate lunacy ensues with Mr. Black injecting his devilish brand of unbridled humor and sarcasm while the director tries to keep up with his tornadic and tangential themes.

The actor/musician eventually calms down, sounding mildly stoned at times. Viewers will learn from the pair about script changes, performances, thoughts behind song choices, playing guitar solos and Mr. Black’s insecurities. They even question some of their artistic choices.

Next, the young actors — Ms. Cosgrove (band manager Summer), Joey Gaydos (lead guitarist Zack), Kevin Clark (drummer Fred), Maryam Hassan (backup vocalist Tomika), Rebecca Brown (bassist Katie), Caitlin Hale (backup singer Marta), and Mr. Tsai (keyboardist Lawrence) — offer their thoughts.

They mostly find the movie cool, hilarious and laugh a lot while the group discusses what they love about “School of Rock.” Although fairly bland, they often remind viewers what’s funny onscreen. The actors eventually talk about their experiences and also comment on food served in the cafeteria, recite their dialogue to the movie and tell Mr. Tsai to buy the first Doors album (you’ll like it, they suggest).

Sure, it’s a bit light and anecdotal but offers an important perspective on making the film.

Next, three featurettes spotlight the production, the kids showing up at the premiere at the Toronto Film Festival and an MTV segment from 2003 titled “Diary of Jack Black.”

It covers a day in his life including rehearsals with the band for “School of Rock” and fun with musical partner Kyle Gass from Tenacious D and his fast-food diet choices.

Another short segment replays Mr. Black pleading with Led Zeppelin to use one of their songs in the film. The members eventually acquiesced.

Also, and most nostalgic, viewers get an interactive chalkboard offering Dewey Finn’s history of rock. Click on the varied genres to find lists of bands and artists, more than 100 in total, and short biographies on each.

For example, click on “New Wave” for a look at legends such as Devo, The Police and Blondie, to name a few.

It’s a rare event to see this type of old school extra on a 4K disc and certainly appreciated.

The other goodie is, of course, the steel case packaging with the front panel featuring an adapted version of the movie poster as Dewey in mid-strum wields a red SG guitar and his students pop around behind him.

The cover comes adorned with metallic red-and-black bolts and highlights a gold Rolling Stone’s magazine font style of the film’s name dead center.

The back of the case carries over the red-and-black design with a hand-drawn version of the prep schools in the middle.

The interior center spread shows Dewey pointing to a chalkboard to highlight his branching-tree schematic of the history of rock.

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