School of Rock (20th Anniversary Steelbook Blu-ray Review)

It’s always an interesting “wow” moment to reflect on the films you’ve seen in a movie theater. Think about it – For some of us, there are “sense memory” moments attached to some films we’ve experienced in a packed theater.  For me, School of Rock wholeheartedly hits in that category with me.  Take a brief journey down memory lane with me below, and be sure to click the paid Amazon link at the end of the review to grab a copy of School of Rock now available in a 20th Anniversary Blu-ray Steelbook edition.


Starring the incomparable Jack Black, directed by acclaimed filmmaker Richard Linklater (Boyhood, Dazed and Confused), and written by Mike White (“The White Lotus”), SCHOOL OF ROCK arrived in U.S. theaters on October 3, 2003 and remained the #1 film in the country for 10 weeks straight.

The uproariously funny film stars Jack Black as Dewey Finn, a hell-raising guitarist with delusions of grandeur. Kicked out of his band and desperate for work, Dewey impersonates a substitute teacher and turns a class of fifth grade high-achievers into high-voltage rock and rollers.  The film boasts a sensational ensemble cast, including Joan Cusack, Sarah Silverman, Amy Sedaris, Mike White, and a host of talented young actors, including Miranda Cosgrove, who made her feature debut in the film.

I can distinctly remember a cold October night in my hometown of Fairfield, California with my buddy Daniel. We just got dropped off in front of Edwards Cinema at Solano Mall and were ready to go see School of Rock. We had been enjoying some of the better songs by Tenacious D, were remembering Jack Black from Shallow Hal and Orange County, and just overall ready to laugh. Trailers back then didn’t give a movie away like they do now, and for comedies, sometimes even saved the best jokes for the audiences who were going in blind to see the movie.

I can remember settling down into the seats, with a pretty much packed auditorium, and from the moment we see Jack Black’s Dewey trying to fit into the band he helped create, you see this awkward cringey comedic talent running wild.  The whole performance is actually very mesmerizing.  We know that Dewey is a bit of a cad, but we can’t help but for those underdog feels for him, and hope that he can overcome his hardships to rock with the best of them.  Yes, I know that sounds cheesy, but if you’ve seen the film you know exactly what I mean.  The talented cast of children also help. Everyone involved is a natural foil for Black to make waves with, and we are just along for the ride laughing the whole way through.  If this is what was intended by all involved, then clearly, they hit the mark with verve!


Encoding: MPEG-4/AVC

Resolution: HD (1080p)

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/DetailSchool of Rock comes back to Blu-ray with the same exact disc and transfer as was originally offered in 2013.  While this transfer is a solid one that actually does rival some of the standard Blu-rays that accompany films not filmed digitally, it is a shame of sorts to have in the steelbook a repackaged disc. Clarity and detail are strong and yes, this isn’t a transfer to scoff at, but as it stands, this is unfortunately just the 2013 disc re-pressed and put in a fancier box.

Depth: Depth is another strength on this disc.  Things aren’t soft and no detail is lost to darkness or smeariness. Again, the disc is dated, but dated doesn’t translate as bad by any means.

Black Levels: Black levels are solid throughout, with nothing looking amiss, or out of place in the darkness of thigns.

Color Reproduction: Colors are not eye-popping, nor are they meant to be.  Just like with other Richard Linklater films, the emphasis is on natural color tones, and things look just right throughout, even if the color palette is a little blah overall.

Flesh Tones: All skin tones are handled just as they were intended, with no one suffering from tan overload or over-darkening.  Nothing half-baked to report!

Noise/Artifacts: Clean, aside from the natural film grain.


Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French, Spanish and Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese

DynamicsSchool of Rock came to Blu-ray 10 years back and in terms of the age of the disc itself, you’re still listening to a rock solid lossless 5.1 track.  Dynamics are a showstopper, with even the quietest scene seeming to be nearly immersive in its sound design.  Kudos to the engineers who made such a lasting, wonderful audio mix for the film.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: The subwoofer is here for the music, the necessary foley work and more.  There aren’t any big bass drops, but the music sounds fantastic, as do the cars, the doors slamming and the rowdy thudding in the crowd scenes aren’t to be messed with either.

Surround Sound Presentation: Ambience is always involved in the surrounds. Crowd noise, classroom and cafeteria noise, traffic, all surrounding and bringing us into Dewey’s world. Excellent presentation

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is front and center and just right!


Extras carry over from the 2013 release, which itself involved recycled features from the 2003 Blu-ray. Nothing new has been added and therefore, you get the same decent features we’ve had for the life of the film on home video. The steelbook is what you came for, and the steelbook itself, is OK overall.  It’s glossy, it’s steel, and if you like things closer to the original poster artwork, you won’t be disappointed.  Legacy features are as follows:

Audio Commentary

Kids’ Kommentary

Lessons Learned on School of Rock (480p, 24:50)

Jack Black’s Pitch to Led Zeppelin (480p, 3:35

School of Rock Music Video (480p, 3:38).

Kids’ Video Diary: Toronto Film Festival (480p, 8:13)

MTV’s Diary of Jack Black (480p, 16:32)

Dewey Finn’s History of Rock (1080p)

School of Rock Theatrical Trailer (1080p, 2:32)


Overall, School of Rock remains a quintessential 2000’s era comedy. It’s light, mostly family friendly and a whole lot of fun.  I can’t imagine anyone disliking this movie unless they just hate the genre in general.  This 20th anniversary steelbook is worth a pickup if you haven’t got the old edition hanging around, but if you wanted this as a replacement, you’re not gaining much.  Here’s hoping we get an actual 4K edition in the works someday.

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