I was recently asked to write a review of a movie that I believe is a “Feel good” film for thefilm.blog and I must say, it wasn’t an easy task picking just one film to discuss.
After considering and discarding so many options, I finally settled on the movie Mr. Holland’s Opus (1995), which is among my favorite movies and IMHO is the best film of 1995.
The film is an emotional roller-coaster because it is able to make us hit so many emotional notes along the way.
The idea to make a fictional “biography” of a musician turned teacher as his life proceeds from the mid-1960’s until the mid-1990’s is a great one because who among us hasn’t been affected in one way or another by an inspirational teacher.
This time, we get to see the whole thing from a teacher’s perspective which is quite a clever way to tell this kind of story because the material is extremely relateable to just about everyone yet we all are familiar with seeing it from the pupil’s side and not the teacher’s.
I originally saw this film when it came out in 1995 and I was only 21 at the time, so over the years since, I have come to appreciate the perspective of the teacher much more since the main character must deal with students but also the ever changing world around him; both within his own home and outside of it.
Richard Dreyfuss is a great choice to play the lead character of Glenn Holland and is near perfect in each of the various stages of life depicted here.
He deserving was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor for this role but somehow lost to Nicholas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas (1995). [I’m still baffled even after 22 years that Cage beat not only Dreyfuss but also Anthony Hopkins in Nixon (1995), Sean Penn in Dead Man Walking (1995) and Massimo Troisi for Il Postino (1994) since any of the others would have been a better choice.]
IMHO, this is one of the best fictional “biographies” ever filmed because they take their time in each of the various “stations” to help us understand the character and even more importantly, the affect he has on everyone around him during that particular part of the story.
None of these vignettes feel drawn out or cut short and they give us just enough time in each of them to learn something new about his life.
I must admit tho, that they could have added a little bit more information in some of them to give us an even more complete vision of that particular chapter in his life and it only would have benefited more with a bit more detail.
Besides Dreyfuss, the rest of the cast is superbly chosen and help us feel even more about everything that is happening.
Glenne Headly, Olympia Dukakis, Jay Thomas, William H. Macy, Alicia Witt, Terrance Howard, Jean Louisa Kelly and Balthazar Getty are all wonderful in their respective parts without fear that they would steal any of the spotlight from Dreyfuss’ lead.
The soundtrack is amazing and is filled with some of the best songs from the 60’s. 70’s, 80’s and even the 90’s which helps keep things in their perspective time frame.
Composer Michael Kamen accentuates it all with his score which speaks so much about what one can accumulate and accomplish during a lifetime.
The ending and the concert scene are both equally emotional and I always cry tears of joy and happiness whenever I watch both of them.
All in all, this is a film that always gives me so much hope because like a large jigsaw puzzle, sometimes in life, we only see each piece on their own, but once we have the opportunity to view all of the pieces put together, we can easily see how astounding an accomplishment it has been to work on it no matter how many frustrating moments we have endured or needed to overcome along the way.