Movie Article

Tale Of The Tape: Motley Crews

School Of Rock (PG-13, 109 mins., 2003, Paramount) -- in which a substitute teacher turns a bunch of prep-school nerds and Christina Aguilera fans into a rock band -- wasn't the first film to champion the iconoclastic visionary who strikes a chord with scrappy underdogs, leading them to a raging moment of fame (followed, inevitably, by the crash and burn). As Dewey Finn, Jack Black's alter ego, exults, ''You could be the ugliest sad sack on the planet, but if you're in a rockin' band, you're the cat's pajamas, man! You're the bee's knees!''

THE ASCENT

Patti Rasnick (Joan Jett) tries to make her group of working-stiff musicians, the Barbusters, take the music more seriously and get somewhere.

A Dublin hustler recruits a gaggle of blue-collar boys and girls (including Andrew Strong, above) to play '60s American soul. They land gigs and come thisclose to a recording contract.

Promoter Mr. White (Tom Hanks) picks up the Oneders, changes their name to the more accessible Wonders, releases their regional album nationally, and has them tour in matching suits. They soon score a top 20 hit.

THE CRASH AND BURN

The band parts ways at the midpoint, and Patti plays with other outfits -- only to return at film's end for a bittersweet gig in a crummy Cleveland bar.

While the big deal is being negotiated, after a sold-out club gig, they get into a fistfight and the band dissolves.

After a big TV appearance, simmering creative differences (and romantic competition for Liv Tyler) boil over and the band breaks up.

THE MANTRA

''I go out there every night just to hear the beat! And that's all there is, man!''

''We're the guerrillas of soul.... We hit, then we sink back into the night.''

''I want something peppy, something happy, something up-tempo. I want something snappy.''

Originally posted Mar 05, 2004 Published in issue #754 Mar 05, 2004 Order article reprints
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