Movie Review by Alice Castle
Starring: Paul Green and the Paul Green School of Rock Music – Asa, CJ, Madi
Director: Don Argott
This is a charming, funny documentary about guitar teacher Paul Green and his Philadelphia School of Rock. Green’s dream is to one day see his students on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, and judging by some of the talented youngsters he’s teaching, his wish may yet come true. CJ, a 12 year-old musical genius has all the skill of a much more mature guitarist and none of the attitude. He gave up soccer and martial arts to study at Green’s school and now stands (at about five feet tall) as one its most talented students. Madi, a practicing Quaker who lives near an Amish compound plays a variety of instruments and does a mean Frank Zappa. Other students who aren’t so promising musically, just like to hang out at the school and take in the Rock School vibe.
Green was a promising rock guitarist himself, but realised he’d never make the A-list and decided to become a really great guitar teacher instead. His teaching style depends on reaching the kids at their own level – Beavis n Butthead humour, swearing, play-acting Vietnam action flicks and the odd blinding teenage tantrum. He says he doesn’t believe in the current fashion for telling kids how wonderful they are. Instead he tells them when they’re doing something badly and doesn’t spare their feelings in doing so. In his students he wants ‘a child who is still a child, with an adult work ethic’. Some of his students are living their parents’ dreams. The mother of 9 year-old twins Asa and Tucker describes herself as a ‘soccer mom without the soccer’, while helping them with their Mohicans and Goth make-up she hopes her kids will live the rock star fantasy she gave up as a teenager.
The documentary’s crescendo comes with the school’s visit to ‘Zappanale’ the annual tribute to Frank Zappa in Bad Doberan, Germany. The students do a fantastic set with guest star Napoleon Murphy-Brock (who played with Zappa) as Paul Green stands on like a tense impresario. The students do him proud.