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Movie Review: There are a *lot* of movies about kids in rock bands, and I just watched two of them

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Just by coincidence, this last week I found myself watching a couple of different movies about early teenage girls starting punk bands, and it got me to thinking more generally about how darn many movies there are with kids in rock groups.

The ones I’ve seen have mostly tended to be pretty good, though, or at least really fun, which is what matters. Most people know School of Rock, which I’ve seen at least a dozen times, and it never gets old—It’s as perfect a vehicle for Jack Black’s infectious enthusiasm as I think there can be, and the kids are fantastic musicians.

Another that’s not obscure, but is less well known, is Sing Street, from 2016, about an Irish boy in the 1980s who starts a band to impress an older girl. We get a lot of fun post-punk and new wave from this one, and it’s certainly very sweet.

The two that I happened to watch last week both happen to inhabit a world that’s a bit more realistic than School of Rock and Sing Street, in that the kids are never magically really good, and we spend a lot of time with them just being teenage girls. One is a 2013 Swedish movie called We Are The Best!, in which a couple of kids at the tail-end of the punk era decide to start a band without knowing how to play anything. There’s a lot of hanging out, it’s not action-packed, but the girls do capture the obstinate defiance of the genre.

The other is a Japanese movie called Linda Linda Linda, and if you’ve heard of the real-life teenage girl punk band The Linda Lindas, this is where they got their name. I was really surprised by how laid back this one is in pace and tone, though that approach really makes sense by the end, and it gave me one of the most welcome earworms I’ve had in a long time.

Fletcher Powell has worked at KMUW since 2009 as a producer, reporter, and host. He's been the host of All Things Considered since 2012 and KMUW's movie critic since 2016. Fletcher is a member of the Critics Choice Association.