What to Watch in September
September 5, 2023

Back To School – School Of Rock 

Starring Jack Black, Joan Cusack – Prime Video – 2003 – 1h 49min – Dir. Richard Linklater – 12A

Dewey Finn poses as a substitute music teacher at a high-end private school after being kicked out of his band, and begins to teach the students how to tap into their inner rock ‘n’ roll. When he learns about a local Battle of the Bands competition, he turns the music class into a full-on rock band, all in the hopes of regaining his former rock ‘n’ roll status. Starring Jack Black in the role of Dewey, “School of Rock” is one of the staple comedies of the 2000s. With the evergreen message that the only thing you need to achieve your dreams is about a dozen musical children and a lax attitude towards the safety of said children, this film sits right alongside “Mrs. Doubtfire” in the pantheon of feel-good flicks that – in the real world – would lead to a series of prosecutions. Unfortunately, like Doubtfire, a sequel to “School of Rock” has yet to be made in which Dewey is tried for fraud, impersonation, evading arrest, kidnapping, and child endangerment, to which he would be given an approximate three-year sentence according to U.S law. Maybe one day Jack Black will step back into the role of Dewey Finn, wearing an orange jumpsuit, staring at the lyrics he carved into the cell wall, and wondering if he should have just left those musical children alone.

Roald Dahl Day (13th) – Matilda the Musical 

Starring Emma Thompson, Alisha Weir – Netflix – 2022 – 1h 57min – Dir. Matthew Warchus – PG

An adaptation of Tim Minchin’s stage show, which itself was based on the 1988 book “Matilda,” “Matilda the Musical” is the sort of film you put on to keep the kids happy while you get on with your life in another room. Starring Emma Thompson as Miss Trunchbull and the young Alisha Weir as the titular Matilda, this musical is bright and colorful, it’s the visual equivalent of too many Starburst and the audible equivalent of the child that ate too many Starburst. Let’s not fool ourselves, this is a film for the kiddies – one that adults can enjoy, sure, but you wouldn’t ever admit to liking down at your local – so it should go without saying that it’s the sort of watch that can, at times, become a little on the grating side. If you’re a fan of musicals, children singing, over the top acting and production, and Seoul International Drama Award-winning actor Stephen Graham wearing a big set of comedy teeth, then this film is about as up-your-street as a film can get. If not, hey, why not give it a try?

Talk Like A Pirate Day (19th) – Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl Starring Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley, Orlando Bloom – Disney+ – 2003 – 2h 23min – Dir. Gore Verbinski – 12A

I think we’ve all heard of Talk Like A Pirate Day at some point in the last few years as one of those joke-facts. It’s the sort of thing where someone comes into the office and goes “ar” and then gets the smug satisfaction of letting everyone know that it’s Talk Like A Pirate Day, to which everyone politely laughs and then forgets about it until they do the same thing next year. But there’s never much commitment, is there? He only ever comes in and goes “ar.” I think it would be just fantastic if, for once, those who go “ar” once a year go the extra mile. Buy a parrot, put on an eyepatch, sink an enemy vessel, get scurvy, evade the Royal Navy just off the coast of Gibraltar, and for goodness’ sake bury some treasure. Is that too much to ask? Am I being unreasonable? I’d never ask anyone to get themselves a peg-leg, of course, that would be a bit too much commitment. Nor would I suggest stealing or plundering or walking the plank. I’m not a monster, just an enthusiast. Also, yes, I know it’s Talk Like A Pirate Day, not Dress or Act Like A Pirate Day, but we’re all so sick of this limp-wristed half-thought-out attempt at honoring our sea-faring past that I just think it deserves a little bit more than some dope going “ar.” I know I’ll be doing more than saying “ar” this year. Will you? (This message was sponsored by the Blackbeard Corporation, Taking the “Ar” out of Friendship) Oh, yes, also “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.” Watch it, or don’t.

International Rabbit Day (30th) – Wallace & Gromit: The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit 

Starring Peter Sallis, Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes – Apple TV+ – 2005 – 1h 25min – Dir. Nick Park – U

Who knew that rabbits got their own international day? They haven’t earned it, that’s for certain. Anyway, “Wallace & Gromit: The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit” is the second film on our list to feature a curse, which is pretty cool. It’s also the second film on our list to feature a man who turns into a giant rabbit. Can’t tell which of the previous three was the first? Looks like you’ll have to watch them all to find out. On a more straight-faced note, “Curse Of The Were-Rabbit” is well and truly one of the best-animated films of the last twenty years, not least in part because it’s an Aardman production, which pretty much always guarantees quality. It follows the titular Wallace and his dog Gromit as they investigate the sudden appearance of what can only be described as a were-rabbit. It’s like a werewolf, only less wolfy, and much – much – more rabbity. Imagine, if you will, a werewolf stripped of all his wolfiness, leaving nothing but a simple were, only for it to be injected with preposterous amounts of rabbityness. Now, with that in mind, I think you’re ready to watch the film. I think you’re ready to watch loads of were-rabbit films. In fact, I think you’re ready for a real mission. Wait for my signal, then detonate your relatives and fly to Dover, we’re going to Moscow.