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Glenn Holland

The hero of Mr Holland's Opus manages the remarkable feat of being a composite of all the worst movie teacher cliches.

Poor Glenn Holland. One day, short of cash, he decides a few weeks teaching music appreciation at Kennedy High will bring in all the dollars he needs to complete his great American Symphony.

What's so wrong with that?

Thirty years later Holland is found under a pile of paperwork, battling with lesson plans and fighting to keep any kind of music on the syllabus.

So he sells out, that's the idea is it?

Well he tries. But no one's buying. Holland is not a natural teacher. "When I was at high school I always wanted to be somewhere else," he complains to his girlfriend. "I never realised the teachers felt the same! I hate teaching. I hate these children. No one could teach them."

So he gives up?

Very nearly. "Today I taught 32 kids to sleep with their eyes open," he grumbles when it turns out his fresh-faced adolescents believe an Ionian scale is what you use to weigh Ionians and Bach is a noise made by dogs. But then things change.

Ah! He discovers he has a vocation.

No, a pregnant girlfriend. And in due course a beautiful, but deaf, son. Weighed down by the irony of it all, Holland takes a permanent post at Kennedy High and tries ear-bashing his crew-cut dumbos and pony-tailed prima donnas. "These test results are PATHETIC!" he shouts, like Sidney Poitier in To Sir With Love. When that doesn't work he tries being inspirational, like Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society, thumping out jazz on the piano and mocking his one conscientious pupil as a "brown-noser" in front of the entire class. Eventually Holland just settles for being old and vaguely inspirational, growing a white moustache, like Robert Donat in Goodbye Mr Chips.

And does our podgy hero succeed in keeping music on the syllabus?

No. He gets booted out instead (probably when the governors discover he is a composite of all the worst teacher movie cliches ever rolled into one).

And what about his great unperformed opus?

In a truly lachrymose style, the school orchestra discovers the score and rehearses it as a surprise for Holland's farewell party. "We are your symphony!" they cry. Instead of sensibly running a mile, Holland stands up and conducts.

And is it any good?

Derivative, saccharine, coy and deeply sentimental. The symphony isn't much cop either.

Pictured: Richard Dreyfuss as Glen Holland in Mr Holland's Opus (1995)

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