A frustratingly not-terrible action thriller.
High school teachers seem locked in time to us; we seem like part of a flowing stream to them. My teachers are frozen in the late 1950s, an innocent time when high school portals had quotations from Milton carved over the doorways, and no metal detectors. But to them, the Class of 1960 was one of 10, 20, 30 or more classes passing through their hands, and even though Coach Smith did assure us at our 10th reunion that "there was never another class like you," we had the suspicion that he said that at all the reunions.
Holland's Opus" tells the story of 30 years in the life of a high school
music teacher named Glenn Holland, who takes the job in the first place as a
temporary measure. His real work, he believes, is to compose music. Teaching is
just a way to pay some bills. He realizes only gradually that it is, in fact,
his destiny. (Like they say, "What you're doing instead of your real jobISyour real
As the movie opens, Holland (Richard Dreyfuss) and his wife Iris (Glenne Headly) are a couple fueled by his heady ambitions. He will be a great composer, of that he is sure, but then hard financial realities make him take the teaching job, where the hard-edged principal (Olympia Dukakis) looks him over sternly and reads him as a man for whom teaching has no seriousness.
God knows the school needs a music teacher. At his first meeting
with the high school orchestra, he finds they play badly. How badly? I didn't
recognize the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony.
(By the end of the film, a successor to this orchestra has so improved that it sounds for all the world like a Hollywood recording stage filled with professional session musicians under the baton of Michael Kamen.)