Ross Family Movie Challenge: 'School of Rock' vs. 'Spellbound'
Andrew Schwartz; Everett Collection[/caption]
Every week EW’s Dalton Ross and his wife, writer Christina Kelly, have a… um, lively discussion about what movie they should watch with their two children (Dale, 12, and Violet, 10) that weekend. Now they make their cases publicly and you get to vote on the choices and settle the argument. The power is in your hands, people. Last week, Dalton won once again, as Singin’ in the Rain toppled Mad Hot Ballroom. Read on and then vote for what film they should watch this weekend.
Dalton’s Pick: School of Rock (2003)
Music is big in our house. Dale started off on trumpet and has been playing the French horn for a few years now. As for Violet, she used to jam on the piano and recently started on the flute. (Christina and I play absolutely nothing well so it remains unclear from whom they inherited their musical ability.) Regardless, what better movie to show child musicians than a movie about child musicians learning how to SELL THEIR SOULS TO ROCK AND ROLL?!?!? Okay, nobody technically sells his or her soul. But they do have a lot of fun.
School of Rock stars Jack Black as Dewey Finn, a slacker rocker who impersonates his roommate to score a substitute teaching gig after he gets kicked out of his own band. What he ends up teaching them is the joy of old school rock & roll, eventually entering them in a Battle of the Bands competition where they will take on Dewey’s old group, No Vacancy. This is one of those films where the adult teaches a bunch of stuff to the kids and the kids teach a bunch of stuff to the adult. Everyone’s a winner! More importantly, it’s funny as hell and it’s a good, stealthy way to expose my children to Led Zeppelin.
Christina’s Pick: Spellbound (2002)
Sometimes, when I write these posts, I think I can hear faint strains of the theme to The Odd Couple. Dalton and I have much in common, but our movie tastes are as different as those of Oscar and Felix. So are our standards of cleanliness, but that is neither here nor there. This week, I would like to watch Spellbound, a documentary about children competing in a spelling bee, because I am a gigantic nerd. And also, as I have said repeatedly, the kids and I adore the spelling bee drama Akeelah and the Bee. It was my finest moment as family movie selector. I try each week, and fail, to recreate the magic: the kids, rapt on the couch; me, sobbing into numerous hankies while they beg me to compose myself.
I think Spellbound could be a winner. This Oscar-nominee is an exciting chronicle about a diverse group of kids 8th grade and younger who are committed to excellence in spelling. We watch them compete in the 1999 National Spelling Bee, and it is as exciting as a sporting event. I swear! These kids are determined, smart, and hard working. Emotions run high, and the families are often as invested as the kids. The grandfather of one boy has paid 1000 people back in India to pray and chant in order to boost his chances of victory. The boy doesn’t seem to recognize the word “Darjeeling.” Bummer.
I really hope I did not make any spelling errors in this post. If I did, my fourth grade teacher at St. Theresa’s school, Sister Jeanette, is now rolling in her grave. Unless she is still alive. In which case, she’ll come after me with a yardstick.