Mr. Holland's Opus (1995) Poster

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Oh for the love of crumbcake...
Rilchiam-16 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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A beautiful film...
lady_colubris23 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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Lighten Up, Folks.......
drconcerts24 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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Great story with challenges and rewards
bppihl1 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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10/10
Excellent film, with even better music
Tito-86 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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10/10
Richard Dreyfuss is good in all stages of the different seasons of the life of Mr. Holland.
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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Brings back fond memories
Monika-512 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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10/10
How I wish I had my own Mr. Holland
Doogeylover7 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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Good story for the unsung heroes of life – touching without being sickly sentimental
bob the moo11 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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"What an auspicious beginning."
slymusic30 June 2009
Warning: Spoilers
"Mr. Holland's Opus" is the story of a musician whose passion in life is to compose great music. But in order to provide for his wife and son, Glenn Holland must take a post as a high school music teacher, which is seemingly the last thing he ever wanted to do. In the thirty-year period of which this story takes place (mid-1960s to mid-1990s), Mr. Holland discovers through his struggles, little by little, student by student, that he indeed has what it takes to become a great teacher and mentor. He applies the entire history of music ("from Beethoven to Billie Holiday to rock-and-roll," as he expresses it) in order to help his students learn to appreciate what music is and what it has to offer to the world. Of course, Mr. Holland faces some hard challenges along the way, namely the fact that his numerous teaching responsibilities take him away from giving his son, who has a ninety-percent hearing loss, the attention he desires. In the end, when all of the arts programs get dropped from the school curricula, Mr. Holland believes that all of his teaching efforts have been for nothing. It is then, and only then, that he realizes how much of an impact he has actually made on the entire community.

The casting of "Mr. Holland's Opus" is terrific. Richard Dreyfuss was THE actor for the leading role of struggling music teacher Glenn Holland, who experiences life with all of its joys and sorrows through music. Glenne Headly is wonderful as Mr. Holland's loving, reasoning, understanding wife Iris. I highly admire Jay Thomas as phys ed teacher Bill Meister, who strikes up a lifetime friendship with Glenn right at the start of Glenn's teaching career. Not to mention Olympia Dukakis in her top-notch portrayal of principal Helen Jacobs, William H. Macy as vice principal Gene Wolters, Alicia Witt as struggling clarinet student Gertrude Lang, Jean Louisa Kelly as the lovely soprano Rowena Morgan, and Terrence Howard as athletic star/drumming novice Louis Russ.

Here are my personal favorite scenes from this heartwarming film. Mr. Holland shows his first signs of success when he convinces the self-conscious Gertrude Lang that playing music is meant to be enjoyable and is "not about notes on a page"; with this in mind, Gertrude shuns her music stand, closes her eyes, and "plays the sunset" on her clarinet. Until Rowena Morgan makes her first appearance, the various singers who audition for the upcoming Gershwin revue prove themselves amusing in their interpretations of "I Got Rhythm". A tense moment in the Hollands' household occurs when their little boy Cole, deaf and with virtually no communication skills, has difficulty showing his mother what he wants from the cupboard. Rowena sings a beautiful version of "Someone to Watch over Me", with the orchestra conducted by Mr. Holland, on the last night of the Gershwin revue. Shortly after learning that his son is deaf, Mr. Holland is almost in tears as he describes to his music appreciation class the agony of Beethoven's deafness. Following the assassination of musician John Lennon, Mr. Holland sings a nicely orchestrated version of Lennon's "Beautiful Boy" and dedicates it to his own son Cole, now a teenager (Joseph Anderson); from then on, Glenn shares a much greater rapport with the forgiving Cole. And finally, Mr. Holland cannot fight back the tears at his high school's surprise celebration of his thirty years as the music teacher; his former student Gertrude Lang, now a governor (Joanna Gleason), makes him aware of all the lives he has touched: "We are your symphony, Mr. Holland. We are the melodies and the notes of your opus, and we are the music of your life."

"Mr. Holland's Opus" is a film that I believe offers hope to the many people in this world who are forced to take day jobs for which they have no high regard. As this movie progresses, we come to understand how fortunate Glenn Holland's students are to have him for their music teacher.
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9/10
"Life is what happens when you're making other plans"
abum19022 April 2006
This is a line of the Beatles' song that Mr. Holland sings to his son, Cole, at a concert. I've seen this movie plenty of times, but for the first time, I noticed just how well this line resonates in this movie. In fact, this line is the basis for the movie, and could stand in for the whole movie in a pinch- except that we would be missing out on one of the most moving and inspirational films to come out of Hollywood in the past few years.

Mr. Holland's Opus is the story of a man who loves music, who practically lives and breathes music. We see at the beginning of the film, and throughout the rest of it, a man who is most passionate when he is within music. When his wife informs him that she is pregnant, he likens the feeling to falling in love with John Coltrane's music. When a student complains to him that he knows everything there is to know about music, Mr. Holland responds by reminding him that the name of his class is Music Appreciation and explaining forcefully that it doesn't matter how much you know about music if you don't appreciate it.

The movie takes Mr. Holland through three decades- from the '60s to the mid-'90s. In the spirit of nostalgia films like Forrest Gump, we are guided through the decades by vignettes of archive footage depicting scenes such as Nixon announcing his resignation, Gerald Ford tripping down the stairs, and even good old Frankenfurter representing the sexual revolution. As a piece of nostalgia for those times and the days of high school, Mr. Holland's Opus works great. As a chronicle of a man's life and the impact he has on others, it works even better.

This film could have turned into cheap schmaltz, but through its cast and a story that reaches wonderful poignancy and honesty at times, it manages to represent something so much more than that. Richard Dreyfuss, always a natural actor, is perfectly real and moving as Glenn Holland. I can't describe his performance in words, simply because it deserves to be seen more than just written about. And even though this is basically Dreyfuss's movie, the supporting cast makes an impression as well. Glenne Headly, as Mr. Holland's wife, shows tremendous resilience and emotion as the mother of a disabled child. When she explodes at her husband because of his lack of understanding, you explode with her, because we believe every word she is saying.

I don't know if movies can change lives. I think some have the potential to. I know there are movies that can inspire their audiences to be better people- It's a Wonderful Life is one; Casablanca is another. While Mr. Holland's Opus does not reach the quality that those two do (and who can blame it?), it has a similar and near equal impact, and that is definitely a compliment. And how perfect- a movie about a man who changes lives that can also change lives.
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9/10
Musicians love this movie, but that's just a perk
meadowsonbass5 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
It drives me crazy to read posts about Glen Holland being a pompous, self-centered a-hole who treats his family like dirt and amorally pursues a young student, etc.

The whole movie's point has less to do with the process of teaching music to young ruffians (although that premise is a great backdrop to the story) and much more to do with an artistically passionate man's belated growth and atonement. Holland is an intensely flawed character from the get-go, and the reason we cry at the end of this movie isn't because his "American Symphony" is moving (indeed, it's nothing more than treacly and clichéd), but because he has, in two decades or so, sincerely figured out what's important. He certainly has his moments of sleaziness and selfish behavior, but without them the movie wouldn't have a purpose or any real story.

This film is about a man's journey late in life, which is a journey most of us don't want or need. It is a slow and honorable journey, in which he learns a lot about himself and the audience learns to appreciate music and his students' unending charm and talent.

Overall, an unbelievably well-put-together film about life and its many unbelievable (yet realistic) paths.

A must for any parent with a musically-talented kid.
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Needs more Cowbell
tieman6419 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Glenn Holland, played by Richard Dreyfuss, is a musician and composer who joins the teaching department at the JFK High School. He initially takes the job in order to earn some quick cash, his aim being to eventually take some time off and write his "magnum opus" (a piece of transcendent orchestral music which he hopes will "change the world" and "touch people"), but what started off as a part time job soon becomes a longterm career, as Glenn battles both students and school staff, constantly fighting to get others to realise the importance and beauty of music (and by extension, art).

Eventually Glenn's students become receptive to his message, Glenn using a variety of "innovative" and "out of the box" teaching methods to win them over. The film highlights the erosion of creativity within schools, the power of art, the way these institutions degrade the mind, how school syllabuses are subject to budget cuts and outside job demands, but mostly it says that no life spent in a worthy pursuit is wasted.

Glenn Holland may not have been able to write the "magnum opus" he dreamt of, but he did something equally important. He touched the lives of thousands of students, inspiring and influencing them in countless ways. Glenn's life was a symphony, Glenn's existence a piece of music, and that, the film says, is worth celebrating.

In other words, the film is pure cheese. But if you look past all the sentimentality, the heavy-handed tear jerking, the film has a worthwhile message. It says that teaching art is one thing, but living like an artist and inspiring others to do so is an entirely different thing altogether. It's a love letter to beauty and creativity.

Beyond this you have a nice performance by Richard Dreyfuss in the lead and, ironically, some terrible music throughout. Why do films about music (think "The Pianist") often feature bad music?

7.9/10 – The "teacher genre" is filled with films like this. "Dead Poet's Society, "Coach Carter", "Dangerous Minds", "Good Will Hunting", "Stand and Deliver", "Mona Lisa Smile", "The Substitute", "Freedom Writers", "School of Rock" etc, all follow a similar plot.

Interestingly, whilst most films that seek to show changes to a character over a significant span of time use a relatively young actor and then add makeup to make him look older, "Mr Holland's Opus" does the opposite, choosing a performer whose actual age closely matches the final age of the main character, then using makeup to rejuvenate him for the film's early sequences. Surprisingly, the result works better than the usual approach.
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Beautiful Anthem to Life and Music!
MusicLvr21 February 1999
After wanting to see this film since it came out, I finally was lucky enough to see it tonight. As a music lover, this film blessed my soul. The score was gorgeous, and the struggles and victories of Mr. Holland made me laugh..made me cry and warmed my heart. Richard Dreyfuss was glorious in his performance as the troubled Music Teacher. He showed that anyone, be they a young girl who struggles to be good at something, or a teen in the 60's who wants to play the drums but can't find the beat..can be changed by music. Bravo, Mr. Holland!
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10/10
Dreyfus's Triumph
Gavno16 June 2007
With all of the trashy, throw-away, so-called "stars" out there, a small handful of folks have always stood out on the basis of sheer acting talent. Richard Dreyfus is among them.

I first got turned on to him with THE GOODBYE GIRL, and something just clicked. THIS was the Real Thing! After JAWS, I started looking for more... and promptly found a quirky, offbeat offering, THE APPRENTICESHIP OF DUDDY KRAVITZ.

Three wildly different roles... and all handled to perfection. THIS MAN IS AN ACTOR! After a succession of other roles, Dreyfus hit THE role, the one he can always be proud of... playing Glen Holland, the reluctant music teacher who came to love the profession that life and circumstances had forced him into.

The greatest gift MR. HOLLAND'S OPUS gave to me was an appreciation for a person in my own life... for the first time in several decades, I thought of my personal Mr. Holland, band director Herbert Rifkind of Chicago Vocational High School. Mr. Holland and Herb Rifkind couldn't have been more different people; Herb had been part of the Marine Corps Band in Washington, and tho he'd moderated the military approach to one more suitable for dealing with high school kids, his band was a tight and precise machine, carefully trained with patience and love.

Holland's "marching buddy" practice, and the sound of the drummer's Street Beat winding up at the start of the parade instantly took me back across decades... during halftime in a football game in Soldier Field in Chicago, steering 40 pounds of reluctant brass Sousaphone through a high wind while maintaining precise marching interval and cadence in the ankle deep mud, all the while struggling for perfection on the bass obbligato of "The Stars and Stripes Forever"...

We didn't do it for glory, or even for ourselves... tho we'd have never admitted it back then, the band did it right to keep from letting Mr. Rifkind down. Holland and Rifkind were alike in that way; he was our best friend on the faculty, and the one that we now remember with a special fondness.

The Rifkinds and Hollands of this world probably have the most profound effect on their students of any high school faculty member; they give their kids something of VALUE that lasts a lifetime; an appreciation for music, and the self discipline that's needed to master a musical instrument or navigate life.

Holland and Rifkind are very special people... simple men, doing a job that they love, but a job that affects every student they ever encounter for a lifetime. It was time that somebody made a movie about these unsung heros.

Dreyfus did it RIGHT.
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8/10
Genuinely Nice Bio Film That Hits Mostly The Right Notes
ccthemovieman-19 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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9/10
In my top 10.
Matt McCann15 August 2012
Oh for goodness sake. Would all musicians complaining about the music kindly stuff off. I play a bit of rugby but still thoroughly enjoyed "Invictus" despite some ropey rugby sequences. This film is not about the music. This is the wonderful story of an ordinary man who strived to be something extraordinary and always felt as though he had let himself and his family down by not becoming the man he felt he should have been, when in fact he became so much more extraordinary than he could ever have imagined. Mr Holland's opus WASN'T the music, his opus was his pupils and the impression he made on their lives, and the final scene, with his realisation that his life hadn't been wasted is one of the most moving things I have ever seen on screen. So there. I am a big girls blouse.
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10/10
Absolutely Inspiring
adamhouzer30 September 2006
This is by far the best movie I have seen in some time. Only being 15 years old, as a young man I have come to more of an understanding for music and its teachers as well.

I have always enjoyed music and this movie has furthered that enjoyment.

This movie left me in tears. Dreyfuss does an absolutely amazing role and makes the experience much more enjoyable. He was a perfect match for the role.

I recommend this movie to any and all music appreciators/lovers as it has truly inspired me and hopefully will inspire you as well.
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9/10
Wonderful movie.....
scholara28 September 2006
I found this to be an uplifting movie and not at all tragic.

It's about a man who has life happen to him while he's making other plans.

Richard Dreyfuss shows again what a gifted character actor he is. From "What about Bob?" to "Mr.Holland's Opus", we see his incredible range from drama to comedy. He is one of the great character actors of his generation.

Dreyfuss really puts his heart into this performance, like when he sings to Cole. You can see the sweat on his brow, and although he's no John Lennon, I thought his singing was pretty good.

Also, in this age of techno wizadry, you can't always trust what you see on the screen, but it looked to me like he was actually playing the piano, in which case, another facet of this talented man.

His character agonizes over a potentital relationship with a beautiful and talented student in a midlife crisis, but at the end makes the right decision.

And the ending, it was so moving that even the cast had tears in their eyes, and I somehow don't think that was fake.

The timeline of events from the 60's to the 90's was also excellent.

Overall, a beautiful movie, and everyone put in a great performance. I thought it had the right balance, without getting overly sentimental and sugar coated, and evoked a feeling of the times with the music and settings.

I take this movie out and watch it every once in a while.
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9/10
inspiring...
johnnyzero27 July 2006
This is just a wonderful film - seen it six times, cried six times. The finale literally gives me chills every time.

I think the character of Mr. Holland resonated with me so much because he reminded me of several great music teachers who had a profound influence on my life (1970's). In a larger sense, he was typical of a LOT of the teachers in my day: dedicated, idealistic baby-boomers who were going to change the world by affecting one student at a time.

The film succeeds in utilizing as its backdrop the American cultural & political landscape of the 1960s-1990's (Vietnam, civil rights movement, Watergate, etc).

Kudos to the director and everyone else involved for getting most of the music stuff "right" - I'm a musician and I usually look for bad fake playing, inaccuracies, and anachronisms.

Cheers to the late, great Michael Kamen for his wonderful score & especially "Glen Holland's" American Symphony: it contains musical "quotes" ranging from Copeland to Gershwin; to the final note from The Beatles' "A Day In The Life".

...yes, I realize John Lennon wasn't American ;-) ....

One minor plot flaw: why couldn't The Governor just issue an Executive Order to restore Music Education funding? (just kidding...) JohnB
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10/10
A touching movie about the power of music to change lives - even those of the ones who teach it
dwr2462 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Opus literally means "work" in Latin. And this affecting tale of a man's life work is one of the best made in recent years.

The movie starts in the fall of 1965 when Glenn Holland (Richard Dreyfuss) starts teaching at John F. Kennedy High School (which is in the process of being renamed as he arrives). Mr. Holland was playing keyboards with a band, but has tired of touring and wants time to settle down and write his own music. He finds teaching to not be much to his liking at first. The kids aren't interested, and he doesn't know how to get through to them. In addition, his principal, Mrs. Jacobs (Olympia Dukakis), is always on his back, as is the Vice Principal, Mr. Wolters (William H. Macy). His only friend on the faculty turns out to be the football coach, Bill Meister (Jay Thomas). His complaints to his wife, Iris (Glenne Headley), are met with sympathy at first, but when he learns she is pregnant, he realizes that he needs this job to support his soon to be larger family. At that point, he commits and becomes an excellent teacher, learning how to connect to the kinds of music the kids like and relate it back to the classics he is required to teach. Along the way, he reaches several students: a young clarinet player (Alicia Witt), a football player (Terrence Howard) who learns to play the drums in order to keep his GPA high enough to continue to play - an undertaking done at the request of Meister, a gifted young singer (Jean Louisa Kelly) who longs to make music rather than work in her parents business and who develops a bit of a crush on Mr. Holland. His personal life fares a little less well. His only son, Cole (Nicholas John Renner, Joseph Anderson, or Anthony Natale depending on the age) is born deaf, and he can't share his father's love of music. Or so Mr. Holland thinks, until he realizes his frustration has shut his son out of his life. Once again, he rises to the challenge. However, it is only when the music program is cut from the curriculum, and Mr. Holland is forced to retire that he realizes what his true life's work has been.

It's a brilliant script. Mr. Holland's passion for life - music, his work, his family - is wonderfully depicted, and contrasted against his own limitations in being able to achieve his goals. When faced with his shortcomings, he does something about them, and in the end triumphs because of it. And having his former students come back and show him how he has influenced their lives is an especially nice touch.

The acting is excellent. Dreyfuss is a skilled actor, and he brings a warmth to the part that contrasts nicely with Mr. Holland's less appealing characteristics. Headley gives a sweet performance as a woman who loves her family and stands by them no matter what. The scene where she expresses her frustration at not being able to communicate with her son is especially well done. Thomas puts in a nice turn as the football coach. I'm not a big fan of Macy, but he does pretty well as the vice principal. Dukakis is nothing short of fabulous as the principal who decides to mentor Mr. Holland whether he wants her to or not.

Yes, it's a tear jerker of a movie, especially the ending. But it's well worth the sacrifice of Kleenex, whether it's the first time or the hundred and first. This is a movie that says yes, anyone can make a difference in ways they never dreamed of.
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9/10
Misclassification
cineaste193924 February 2008
What Low Man and others who have made similar comments fail to account for is that 7/8 of the movie-going public don't know a fugue from a fermata.Most of them like one or more of the musical genres, but probably can't say why, in musical terms.

In any case, the movie isn't about the rarified and arcane nuances of music as an art. Its creators didn't aspire to see it cited in Grove's or a top musical journal. The film could have easily been about dramatics, fine art or any of the three r's disciplines. Each evokes passionate interest from students and claims some wannabee top performers in those fields as teachers, sooner or later. The film is about how one can release one's tight grip on self-aggrandizing dreams and find a gloriously satisfying life in service to others. This message it transmits superlatively.
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10/10
I saw Richard Dreyfuss in a bookstore while they were filming this.
Lee Eisenberg10 November 2006
In September, 1994, my mom and I were in the checkout line in Powell's Bookstore in Portland, Oregon. There was a very short man in front of us. When we got up to the cashier, she identified the man as none other than Richard Dreyfuss. We turned around and sure enough, it was he. Needless to say, we wondered what he was doing in Portland.

A little over a year later, we found out what he was doing when "Mr. Holland's Opus" got released. We thought that it was one of the best movies that year. We all really liked that it portrayed how sad he got when John Lennon got assassinated. A very good movie.

About a year later, Richard Dreyfuss appeared at Grant High School again. He made a speech encouraging people to vote in the upcoming election.

All in all, a great movie. I recommend it to everyone. Also starring Glenne Headly, Olympia Dukakis and William H. Macy. Strange that Stephen Herek also directed movies such as "Critters".
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10/10
Mr. Holland's Opus
core_key200116 October 2006
This movie was really great. I first saw it when i was a freshman i high school, and i have't stopped watching it since. For me...parts of it were real tear-jerker. Other parts were funny, but overall Stephen Herek did a GREAT job directing this film...and THE CAST did a GREAT job as well. For me, watching the movie really opened my eyes. It showed me that music is in every one...it's just up to the people on whether or not they do something to strengthen their abilities. It also showed me that musicals aren't stupid. Because believe it or not, before i watched MR.Holland'S OPUS..that's what i thought. But it really did open my eyes up to musicals. and i owe it all to my chorus teacher my freshman year in high school
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10/10
I did have my own Mr. Holland
lou5305327 June 2006
I just finished re-watching this movie. I first saw it in the theaters when it came out. I fell in love with it as my favorite teacher in high school was my band/choir director. As fate may have it, immediately upon arriving home from seeing the movie, I received a phone call asking to be part of the orchestra to celebrate the retirement of my favorite teacher. A special song had been written for him, so of course I dusted off my clarinet and before I knew it, I was part of my own Mr. Holland's Opus. I remember that evening and all the wonderful years surrounding this teacher each time I watch the movie. It still requires a box of tissues in my opinion.
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