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Mr. Holland's Opus
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Reviews & Ratings for
Mr. Holland's Opus More at IMDbPro »

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75 out of 84 people found the following review useful:

Oh for the love of crumbcake...

Author: Rilchiam-1 from United States
6 December 2001

So many people have complained about the Gertrude Lang character (Alicia Witt), Holland's interaction with her, and the purpose of the character, and I am simply amazed at the hostility.

1) "Playing the sunset" was Holland's way of getting Gertrude to relax so she could play the notes fluidly. They both knew that she didn't sound professional, and wasn't going to. The idea was to get her just above the level of making a fool of herself as she did the first time he called on her in class. Then she could, and did, perform in the band without dragging down the whole ensemble.

2) Her goal was not to be a professional musician. Did no one else hear her speech about "I just wanted to be good at *something*"? She listed all the fabulous achievements of her parents and siblings, and concluded, "I'm the only one who's..." The missing word would have been "useless" or "worthless". Or "a failure". Thirty years later she's the governor (not the mayor!), because in 1966, Holland helped her gain confidence for the first time.

3) She wasn't "wasting" Holland's efforts by going into politics. Art, music and theater education don't exist solely to create professional artists, musicians and actors. They also exist to give young people an opportunity for change and growth, even if they never use a paintbrush again.

I liked that plot twist. Almost every high school has an alumnus who has achieved something in art or entertainment, but a lot of people sell one painting or appear in one film and become a hero to their home town. But there are only fifty states, and it takes an extraordinary amount of drive to become governor of one of them. It's unlikely that she would have taken that first step towards empowerment without Holland.

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55 out of 63 people found the following review useful:

A beautiful film...

Author: lady_colubris
23 April 2003

The first time I saw this film was in the movie theater with one of my best friends--both of us musicians. By the time we left, both of us were bawling our eyes out. This film is very touching and well done. Granted, there are accuracy errors (every film has those) and I've noticed several complaints about the music in the final scene (why are people so nitpicky?). I had a band director much like Mr. Holland when I was in middle school, a man who struggled at first as a teacher but soon became a beloved and inspiring director. Every time I watch this film I think of that man, and how he changed my life for the better. It's a movie I can truly relate to.

Okay, enough reminiscing. :P If you want a film that will tug your heartstrings, this is it. Rating 9 out of 10.

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53 out of 63 people found the following review useful:

Lighten Up, Folks.......

Author: drconcerts from Atlanta, GA
24 December 2000

It's a MOVIE! I'm reading comments so vastly polarized to one extreme or another so as not to be believed.

Okay, I am a musician. I've been one on a professional level for over ten years, both as a writer and performer. And I LOVED this movie (apologies to all those pretentious 'serious' musicians out there). I enjoyed my theatrical viewing and I have watched my DVD several times.

Is MR. HOLLAND'S OPUS musically accurate? No, of course not, no more so than STAR TREK paying attention to factual science and the laws of physics. But for the most part, nobody other than most of us ego-driven, high horse bound musician types will ever know it.

Designed to have a broad appeal outside the aforementioned musically inclined crowd? Yes, but then so is nearly every movie to come out of Hollywood. It has to be palatable to a certain degree, and I believe that the much maligned "Play the sunset" scene is far more entertaining than having Mr. Holland give us lengthy exposition on the proper articulation and technique that goes into playing a given instrument.

And if I hear one more poster scream about Mr. Holland's 'opus' only being ten minutes long (the "It took him a lifetime to write THIS?" mantra) I think I'll scream. Did it ever occur to anybody that what we heard was only a small part of a much larger work? Most classical and semi-classical pieces occur in (get ready) MOVEMENTS! It's entirely possible that we only heard the prologue to a much larger piece. Think outside the box, people.

As for the quality of the piece itself, I found it to be acceptable, if not the most dynamic piece of work I've ever heard. But seeing as how we had been hearing snippets of this piece THROUGHOUT THE MOVIE, I can't say that I was so overwhelmingly let down as some of our more 'educated and refined' musician types that have posted here.

Sure, there were some flaws. Ms. Headly is not the greatest actress in the world, and beside Dreyfuss she's downright embarrassing. William Macy's character is so cliched that it warrants no further discussion. The whole subplot with Rowena and her romantic interest in Mr. Holland ran about ten minutes too long. And the ending bit where the arts funding gets cut seemed a little too political.

But overall, a great film, surely one of Dreyfuss' best, and one of my favorite films.

I'm a musician. And I liked it. So sue me....

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44 out of 52 people found the following review useful:

Excellent film, with even better music

9/10
Author: Tito-8 from North Bay, Ontario
6 May 1999

Richard Dreyfuss is outstanding (as is the whole cast) in this thoroughly enjoyable film. I really liked it the first time, but with repeated viewings, I'd say that this film got even better. It's a little predictable, but so what? For me, it was impossible not to care about these characters, and the ending was the perfect heartwarming note to go out on. It was rather funny as well, but my favourite thing about this movie was the music. It seems only fitting, considering the importance of music to this film, that it would have a great number of songs, but I was astonished by how much I LOVED the music in this movie. All-in-all, this was a completely satisfying film, and I would call it a must-see.

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36 out of 42 people found the following review useful:

Richard Dreyfuss is good in all stages of the different seasons of the life of Mr. Holland.

10/10
Author: Rosemea D.S. MacPherson from US
22 April 1999

The writing of this movie by Patrick Sheane Duncan (Nick of Time), nominated for an Oscar and Golden Globe Awards, is one of the best stories that Hollywood ever put on the screen. The sensitivity and perception of the Director Stephen Herek (101 Dalmatians) adds a special touch to the story.

Richard Dreyfuss (The Goodbye Girl, The Competition, The American President) was nominated for an Oscar and Golden Globe for this role, which is my view one of his best performances. He is good in all stages of the different seasons of the life of Mr. Holland. I seldom cry while watching a movie, but when Mr. Holland enters the school auditorium with grey hair and the entire school is applauding when he retires, it makes me cry. I cry every time I watch it, and I can also cry every time I bring it to mind. If I ever get a part where I have to cry all I have to do is to bring back that memory back! That moment is a combination of my mother a music teacher and my dad aging. There is no greater love than to lay your life for another... When I graduated from college I wrote a letter thanking my parents for the rainy days they had to go to work, and for all the sacrifices they made for me and left it on top of the dining room table so they could find when I was not around. Needless to say that the entire family cried. That is what that scene means to me. I do not see Mr. Holland as a frustrated composer, he was just frustrated because he had other commitments that did not give him the time to compose. Glenne Headly did a great job playing Iris Holland. She has appeared in ER recently. Olympia Dukakis (Steel Magnolias) plays Principal Jacobs. It is beautiful when close to her retirement she gives Mr. Holland a gift. Jean Louisa Kell (The Day Lincoln Was Shot) is Rowena Morgan who steals the show because she sings beautifully. William H. Macy, (Fargo) plays Vice Principal Wolters who goes insane when he listens popular music coming from Mr. Holland's classroom. Poor Gertrude Lang, Alicia Witt ("Cybill") is trying so hard to get the technique that she forgets about her feelings. I love when she finally gets to feel the piece and lets herself go.Then when she comes back as grown up is very touching. A music teacher having a deaf child is ironic. Mr. Holland teaching the kids about Beethoven is marvelous! I love when Cole (Anthony Natale (II)), comes back as an adult and participates in the celebration of his dad's retirement, and also because he himself is going to teach at the school for the deaf in Washington DC. This movie struck a cord with me because of the music and because of all the elements that were brought into movie and story. I would give it a10 + if I could. It is one of my favorite dramas! I am not much of a drama person, I prefer comedy, but this is a very special drama.

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24 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

Great story with challenges and rewards

Author: bppihl from Normal, Illinois
1 August 2004

I remember seeing "Mr. Holland's Opus" for the first time in high school. I liked it then, and still do. Films about teaching often involve tough kids and less than ideal teachers, among other things. I have to say this film is an exception. Mr. Holland is an inspiration in so many ways that he does not realize or even want to acknowledge. It is also a story that could have taken place and that some people can relate to. This is why I enjoyed it so much.

Mr. Holland has a dream of composing a very memorable and moving symphony, and to ultimately be "rich and famous." But working odd jobs in pursuit of his dream doesn't appeal to him. Reluctantly, he takes a day job as a high school music teacher to support the family and at first hates it. His students are not motivated to learn through readings and tests, and do not respond well to the music of Bach. When he finds they love rock and roll, he integrates this into the curriculum, much of the disapproval of the administration, who believe "rock and roll by its very nature leads to a breakdown in discipline." He teaches and mentors many students over the years, from a clarinet student who doubts her talent and feels inferior to her musically talented family, to a wrestler who becomes a drummer, and a talented singer with her eye on him who wants to go to Broadway despite any barriers. Whether or not he knows it, Mr. Holland inspires them to do something worthwhile.

Despite his love and talent for teaching, Mr. Holland cannot develop this same level of rapport and love with his wife Iris and son Cole, who is deaf. His desire for Cole to appreciate music is outweighed by Cole's inability to hear and his father's reluctance to help him. Cole learns sign language from his teachers and mother predominantly. Mr. Holland appears to be the kind of person who detests imperfection of any kind, and this strains his familial relationships. Gradually, though, he learns to accept and deal with these challenges, and becomes more loving and appreciative.

I recommend "Mr. Holland's Opus" for musicians, singers, music teachers, and really everyone. Enjoy the show!

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28 out of 36 people found the following review useful:

How I wish I had my own Mr. Holland

10/10
Author: Doogeylover from United States
7 August 2005

What a wonderful movie. I just watched it and am in awe of Richard Dreyfuss' amazing acting. Only being 15 but an avid music lover myself, I sat there wishing I had a teacher like Mr. Holland that inspired me like so many of the students in the movie, that made learning fun by connecting with the students, by doing everything Mr. Holland did. The stories of the students were real and believable. I connected with the girl that played the clarinet, Gertrude Lang, because sometimes I even feel that I'm never good at anything.

Every person of every age can appreciate and love this movie. At the end, when Mr. Holland's goodbye party was discovered in the gym and he took the stage, I was crying.

What a wonderful movie. History-wise, music-wise, and story-wise.

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25 out of 33 people found the following review useful:

Good story for the unsung heroes of life – touching without being sickly sentimental

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
11 May 2003

Glenn Holland is a young composer. In the fifties he stops touring with his band to teach music in a school which he hopes will free him from touring to allow him to work on his main love of composing his own music. Despite initially hating his job, Holland soon learns to enjoy it and how best to communicate the love of music to his pupils. We trace his life over 30-40years as he has a son with his wife and goes through great emotional times while putting his personal dreams to one side.

Although this had `sentimental life lesson film' written all over it, I still wanted to give it a go and strangely still enjoyed it. The film is very much a bit of praise for all those who are unsung heroes in there lives and it had the potential to be really sickly sentimental. Happily a good script manages to avoid this for the majority of the time.

The weakness of the film is the fact it that it does try to cover a lifetime and occasionally there isn't enough plot to do that well. I know it would have been difficult but I do feel that the film could have been either a little tighter or filled to overflowing with plot to make it feel shorter. As it is it is still enjoyable but it does feel a little wandering at times – but I guess that's like life in a way. When the climax comes though it is hard not to be a little moved by the lesson that the film is teaching us.

However, the reason for the success of the film is also the reason for it's Oscar nomination – Richard Dreyfuss on good form. He kept me watching even when the material was stretched. He is totally believable in the role – for a microcosm of his performance watch his face when the announcement is made about the surprise they have prepared for him – his emotion got me right away! He deserved his nomination for this as he is captivating over the whole film. He even ages very convincingly and make up should be congratulated. However while makeup were concentrating on Dreyfuss they totally forgot about Headly who doesn't age a bit until the final time period (apart from looking a bit tired). She is badly miscast and she doesn't fit the role at all. Thomas, Macy, Dukakis and Anderson (as the teenage Cole) all do well in support – but this is Dreyfuss' movie.

Overall I enjoyed this. I usually struggle with things like this because they pile the sentiment on thick like a daytime TVM. Happily this script avoids that are the majority of the flaws are compensated for by a strong performance from Dreyfuss.

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21 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

Brings back fond memories

Author: Monika-5 from United States
12 August 1999

I love this movie because I had a fantastic, inspirational teacher in high school that all the students admired and looked up to. Even though I was in high school when this movie came out, I still carry the memories. Nicolas Cage deserved to win his Oscar for Leaving Las Vegas, but I still would have loved to see Richard Dreyfuss win. The whole cast was wonderful, and you actually felt like you were in the 60s and 70s, unlike other films set in that time period.

How often does a film come out that generations relate to; and a film so touching about a teacher who cares about his students, and vice versa? Will always be one of my favorite films.

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21 out of 33 people found the following review useful:

Genuinely Nice Bio Film That Hits Mostly The Right Notes

8/10
Author: ccthemovieman-1 from United States
9 March 2006

This is simply a nice, dramatic story of a music teacher's life. Richard Dreyfuss plays the teacher, "Glenn Holland." It spans 30 years of his career with a tear-jerking ending. Endearing characters make it a memorable film.

The focus of the story is Dreyfuss and three students he gives special time to over the years. A big subplot involves the teacher and his hearing-impaired son.

The students are winningly played by Alicia Witt, who plays the sweet girl who goes on to become governor; Terrence Howard, a really nice kid who gets killed in Viet Nam, and Jean Louisa Kelly, the last and most memorable student perhaps, an extremely talented singer who goes on to a career in New York City.

Interwoven are some personal stories, particularly with Kelly's character, and with fellow teachers (Jay Thomas playing the most likable) and school administrators (Olympia Dukakis and William H. Macy). The most personal, of course, involves his hot-cold-hot relationship with his disabled son (played by three different actors as time passes.) Glenne Headly, meanwhile, plays Dreyfuss' wife.

As you can see by this cast, this is a well-acted movie with the only flaw being the screenwriters unable, as Hollywood seems to be, to control their political bias by giving unwarranted cheap shots to Republican politicians who are pictured as being against the arts; atheist John Lennon almost deified in this film as one of the "heroes" of the 20th century, plus a few more digs and plugs here and there, all with the normal Liberal bias.

Propaganda-aside, it's a genuinely nice film about people who succeed through dedication to their professions. The movie seemed to appeal to a wide audience. It's very manipulative, but it works. It's also a plug, if you will, for deaf children and the problems they face and the difficulties parents face in raising a kid with that disability.

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