Mr. Holland's Opus (1995)

Any motion picture that promotes music appreciation is well-deserving of 
a look, arguably even one as excruciatingly slow and predictably dopey 
as MR. HOLLAND'S OPUS.  Agony is the best word to describe sitting 
through Stephen Herek's 144-minute epic of a minor scale.  The story 
charts 30 years in the life of high-school music teacher Glenn Holland 
(Richard Dreyfuss), from the inevitable first-year frustrations right on 
up to the only-in-the-movies appreciation-at-retirement rally.  Though 
credible as a honest-- if rather tidy-- portrait of the educational 
process, the movie goes flat when scoring the weepy melodrama of 
Holland's family life.  (The ads reveal a son who's born deaf and you 
can take it from there.)

Ignoring the deeper issues in Patrick Sheane Duncan's script, Herek opts 
for an OPUS that's part fantasy.  Such as a school orchestra that sounds 
like seasoned studio players, or the magical acceptance of a teenage son 
who has been terribly ignored through his life by his father.  (Or even 
the small fact that we never see much evidence of *Holland's* impact on 
his student's lives.  We only see how they affect *him*.  How selfish.)  
And it only gets worse, quickly proving that more than just fairy dust 
is missing here.

The integration of the music is particularly horrid.  Instead of a 
*real* review of the classics, we get a bit of Bach, a handful of 
oldies, and an overdose of overblown orchestrations from composer 
Michael Kamen.  Ugh.  The lack of snap is equally abominable.  Even the 
most patient for a good cry will likely find their bottoms growing sore 
long before their tear ducts do.  Thank goodness for the solid work of 
Richard Dreyfuss.  Wearing a great make-up job that successfully spans 
three decades, Dreyfuss gives a workmanlike performance that even 
survives him having to sing "Beautiful Boy."  Who knows, he may just win 
a nomination.

Slow, sappy, and shameless, MR. HOLLAND'S OPUS is Hollywood happily-
ever-after as only Hollywood can make 'em.  The masses will probably eat 
this stuff up and, judging from the weekend grosses, they already have.  
Take Grandma; take the kids, and then run like hell for the door.  
(Rated "PG"; 144 min.)

Grade: C+

Copyright 1996 by Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies as Of Maestros and Men

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