MR. HOLLAND'S OPUS is the classic fictional story about a teacher who uses rock and roll to teach untalented kids to appreciate music. The twist in this version is that the teacher wants to be a composer and only takes a teaching position so that he can have the time and money to be able to compose, but he finds teaching to be more than a full-time job leaving little time for outside interests. When he finally does finish his American Symphony, he demonstrates, in my opinion, that teaching was the right profession for him anyway.
As the movie starts, Mr. Glenn Holland (Richard Dreyfuss) is beginning his first year at John F. Kennedy High School by teaching music to the class of 65. As someone who was a member of another high school class of 65 (Garland, Texas), I can attest to the careful accuracy of the sets (D avid Nickolas) and the costumes (Aggie Guerrard Rodgers).
Mr. Holland finds he has a group of lethargic and untalented students, and their attempt at music results in a horrible cacophony. He hates his job, and at first he is terrible at it. He uses little witticisms like "There's more to music than notes on a page" and "Playing music is supposed to be fun" in attempts to awaken and inspire his stoic students. Nothing works until he starts playing rock 'n' roll to them and after that he becomes a big hit with the kids although their playing only goes from pathetic to passable.
In a great performance W. H. Macy is Vice Principal Gene Wolters. He is the tuff principal with a flat top that you remember from high school. You know, the one that measures girls skirts and sends them home if their skirts are not...