While a platform for Jack Black to play a mean air guitar (and real electric guitar), School of Rock also has a surprisingly positive message about body image and finding your passion. In his own bumbling way, Dewey helps the kids in his class to discover they have hidden talents despite what the outside “packaging” may look like.
In 2021, this 2003 film resurfaced as a cultural moment when a brief clip of Black’s character talking to one of the fifth-graders, a student named Tomika (Maryann Hassan), about her stage fright. In the scene, Tomika worries the audience will laugh at her “because I’m fat.”
While the scene could have been played for laughs, instead, Dewey delivers a touching pep talk designed to encourage Tomika to embrace her talents and not worry about her weight. “You’ve got something everybody wants,” Dewey says. “You’ve got talent, girl. You have an incredible singing voice … You heard of Aretha Franklin, right? OK, she’s a big lady. But when she starts singing, she blows people’s minds.”
Dewey drives the point home that weight and worth are not tied together. “You know who else has a weight issue? Me. But once I get up onstage, start doing my thing, people worship me! Because I’m a sexy—and chubby—man.”
The scene ends with Tomika asking why Dewey doesn’t simply diet to lose weight, to which he replies, “Because I like to eat. Is that such a crime?”
It can be easy to dismiss the movie as a shallow, fun film, but when you dig a little deeper, its messages of positive body image and finding your talents is one that will resonate with kids and adults alike. School of Rock never tries to be more than it is—an enjoyable flick—but its subtle messages can spark meaningful conversations.
Dove awards this film the Dove-approved Seal for Ages 12+.