Rumour has it that this documentary was already in production when the big studios got a whiff of it and immediately set up Jack Black to make School of Rock - it's kind of lucky that it happened that way around because if the real life antics of Paul Green had hit the screen first there would have been no need to fictionalise a thing. This is one of those must-see documentaries in the same mould as Spellbound in that it weaves oddball characters into a feelgood movie, but what's even better is that it's all dedicated to something that Londonist believes deeply in - the power of ROCK.
Paul Green as it turns out is no odder than some of his young charges as he heaps abuse on them, swears like a trooper and threatens to kill their parents unless they practice more. He WORSHIPS Frank Zappa (smart guy) and the documentary follows his unorthodox teaching style as he gets the kids ready for three major hurdles - a Black Sabbath event ("Tonight's all about SATAN!"), a Guitar Gods standoff (in which his star pupil is a 12 year old that can out Van Halen the original) and the ultimate test to his teaching skills, a Zappa fest in Germany ("We have to destroy them like we destroyed the Germans in World War II).
You don't have to be a fan of the music, but it sure helps as the kids struggle with chords and parents write OZZY on their knuckles and for the most part support Green with the way that he has motivated their kids. It's a healthy reminder that not all Americans are the creationist homestudy weirdoes that boycott Marilyn Manson concerts although when the school's ribbing of one kid's suicidal tendencies hits the papers one concerned mom does threaten to revert to type and sue. Green just charges on and berates the kids in practice sessions and backstage while being obviously moved when they get in right in front of an audience.
Sticking out among the pupils are Will the sad faced, messed up kid ("I was misdiagnoses as retarded... I've attempted suicide a lot") who can't play that well, but finds a home among the other misfits, Madi who also hangs out with a Quaker rap gospel group that has to be seen to be believed and which Green takes great pleasure in taking the piss out of ("Saturday nights we feed the poor, Sunday we feed em some more..."), two Sabbath obsessed twins, Tucker and Asa, who want to be rock stars so they can go to free gigs and CJ who plays in a jaw dropping style whether his hip is in its socket or not.
It's a laugh out loud ride all the way to Germany where the kids get to play really fucking hard music with members of the original Zappa band while Green anxiously looks on waiting with us to see if they can pull off the impossible.
There's nothing not to enjoy here from the AC/DC inspired graphics to some really exceptional music. Don't worry what the critics say in the Friday Film News - just trust us as you would Ronnie James Dio's warnings about dragons and rainbows and get your arse off to see this.