MR. HOLLAND'S OPUS (1995) 

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Richard Dreyfuss
Glenne Headly
Jay Thomas
Olympia Dukakis
William H. Macy
Alicia Witt
Terrence Howard
Damon Whitaker
Jean Louise Kelly
Alexandra Boyd

Stephen Herek



Time: 143 mins.
Rating: PG
Genre: Drama

Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.

SYNOPSIS: A passionate musician dreams of composing one truly memorable piece of music, but reality intrudes when he reluctantly accepts a "day job" as a high school music teacher to support his family.

BOTTOM LINE: This is one of those feel-good movies that grabs hold of your heart from the first frame and relentlessly refuses to let go...which is not always a good thing. I like to cry at the end of a movie as much as the next gal, but I don't like to be highly manipulated to get there. This is a simple story about a man who had greater musical dreams but was forced to put his personal dreams on hold when he falls in love and starts a family. The film spans several decades of his life, focusing on his struggle to impart his love of music to his students while dealing with a career he will most likely never achieve. There are several obvious plot twists – one dealing with his son and the other with a pretty, young student – that really dumb down the quality of this story. I guess the filmmaker's thought his inner struggle wasn't strong enough to carry the whole film. I disagree.

Here Mr. Holland is forced to make a choice that in the end enriches his life more than he could have dreamed, even though it's not what he initially wanted for himself. A powerful message about life more of us should take note of. Sometimes what you think you want isn't always in your best interest. The story also points out in some subtle and not so subtle ways the importance of teachers in our lives. A group that doesn't always get much credit for what they do. I'm not sure Dreyfuss deserved a Best Actor nomination for his performance – Mr. Holland is a great teacher because he's passionate about music not because he wants to be there – but it's the only thing that keeps this film from being just one long sentimental journey. Enjoyable enough entertainment if you don't mind yours on the sappy side.

"I'm 60 years old, Gene. What are you going to do: write me a recommendation for the morgue?"

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