starring Richard Dreyfuss
as Glenn Holland, a musician and composer who takes a job as a high school music teacher in 1963 in hopes that he'll have time to complete his symphony
. He soon finds out that teaching is more than just a temporary job, as he quickly learns from the other faculty members, such as Principal Jacobs (Olympia Dukakis
), Vice Principal Wolters (William H. Macy
), and Coach Meister (Jay Thomas
Throughout the next three decades, Mr. Holland continues teaching teenagers to appreciate and play music, even while he and his wife Iris (Glenne Headly) cope with the fact that their son was born deaf, one of his former students is killed in the Vietnam War, and the assassination of John Lennon saddens the entire world.
Finally, Mr. Holland's job falls victim to school budget cuts, a common enough occurrence in the '90s. As he retires, he finally comes to realize that the students he has taught over the years are, in a way, the magnum opus he always dreamed of composing...and he is finally able, with their help, to conduct the symphony he had been composing all those years.
"Life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans," as one of the songs from the movie says, and the events of Mr. Holland's life certainly bear that message out. Dreyfuss was nominated for an Academy Award and Golden Globe for his portrayal here, and, in my view, he deserved to win them, even though he didn't. I was especially pleased that, in a part of the film where Mr. Holland was sorely tempted to abandon his family and run off to New York with a beautiful and talented student (played by Jean Louisa Kelly), the movie showed him resisting the temptation and "taking the high road." I was so prepared for the "sleaze factor" that seeing him do the right thing was refreshing.
I saw this movie for the first time with my future wife, Silverwrist, on our first date, and have never regretted it since.
Written by: Patrick Sheane Duncan
Directed by: Stephen Herek
Original music by: Michael Kamen
MPAA Rating: PG (mild language)
Running time: 143 minutes