Mr Holland's Opus

Film

Time Out says

It's Glenn Holland's first day at school: he's the reluctant new music teacher at John F Kennedy High. It's 1965, and Mr Holland (Dreyfuss) is anxious to get back to his real work, composition, but as time passes he rechannels his passion into the students, until one day he wakes up, 30 years later, and wonders what happened to his life. Although the avowed inspiration here is It's a Wonderful Life, this tear-jerker shares plenty of old school ties with such British counterparts as The Browning Version and Goodbye, Mr Chips. Screenwriter Patrick Sheane Duncan has created a dramatic arc that's also a learning curve: Holland starts off a stiff-shirt disciplinarian, but comes to realise that he gets better results when he mixes up the Ludwig Van with a little Ray Charles. The film soft-pedals the uglier realities of contemporary schools and Holland's last, most sentimental lesson is to appreciate his own worth. But sentimentality can have its heart in the right place and, in any case, this isn't the film's only message: Dreyfuss' exemplary performance shows how selfishly Holland neglects his own family in favour of his pupils, and it's clear how conservative politics impinge even on music classes. A middle-brow melodrama which functions as the thinking person's Forrest Gump. Music to my ears.

Details

Release details

Duration:
143 mins

Cast and crew

Director:
Stephen Herek
Screenwriter:
Patrick Sheane Duncan
Cast:
Richard Dreyfuss
Glenne Headly
Jay Thomas
Olympia Dukakis
WH Macy
Alicia Witt
Terrence Howard