Movies with a side of academia

The Extra Credit film series, presented by the Division of Research, Innovation and Impact’s The Connector and hosted by Ragtag Cinema, explores popular films through an academic lens.

Oct. 5, 2022

The 2003 comedy “School of Rock” has a lot to teach.

Sure, the film is filled with uproarious laughs as it rockets forward with a high-octane soundtrack from rock gods such as Led Zeppelin and AC/DC. And star Jack Black thrashes about the film like an even more hyperkinetic version of AC/DC’s already energetic guitarist Angus Young.

But the Richard Linklater film with a heart-of-gold redemption story also deserves scholarly consideration as it warns against the “Man,” praises face-melting music and encourages viewers to follow their rock dreams.

That’s why on a recent Monday evening, cinephiles gathered at Ragtag Cinema in downtown Columbia to watch the comedy and then hear three University of Missouri scholars offer their thoughts on a film whose tagline proudly shouts, “We don’t need no education.”

The screening was part of the Extra Credit film series presented by the Division of Research, Innovation and Impact’s The Connector, a partnership between the division and MU Extension that connects MU research, resources and ideas to benefit the people of Missouri and beyond.

“Extra Credit is a fun way for MU researchers to engage with the public without much of the pressure traditional engagement or outreach events require,” said Sara Vassmer, director of The Connector. “It adds dimension and context to movies that have become ingrained in our culture. Research, at times, can seem removed from our day-to-day lives. Events and series like Extra Credit make this work accessible and relatable to our community members through a shared experience, a movie.”

Started in September 2018, the series, which “re-examines pop-culture cinema through an academic lens,” has presented films from “Black Panther” to “Inside Out” to “Groundhog Day.”

Following each screening, a panel of MU researchers and scholars offer their academic insights into the film and field questions from the audience.

Pairing a boisterous film such as “School of Rock” — or even more serious fare such as previous showings of “Gravity” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” — with an academic discussion also demonstrates how much fun learning can be.

Plus, Extra Credit, supported by funds from the division and MU Extension, reinforces the connection between Columbia and Mizzou.

“Ragtag is located between downtown and campus, so this series is a way for folks from inside and outside of academia to watch a ‘cult classic’ together and chat about what they noticed,” said former panelist Megan Murph, director of the Budds Center for American Music Studies and visiting assistant professor of musicology. “I love how the conversations include different perspectives and interpretations, which is such a great contribution to Columbia as a whole. It is a fun way to learn”

Upcoming film presentations

Oct. 10: Jennifer's Body

Nov. 7: Addams Family Values

Dec. 12: Bridget Jones’s Diary


Read more from the Division of Research, Innovation and Impact

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