I've been wanting to write a column about the best teacher movies, but in brainstorming sessions have discovered that it's only a great idea until I try to get it on paper. And then it falls short. Great, awesome inspirational teacher movies (that aren't cheesy) are much fewer and farther between than they should be. There's TO SIR WITH LOVE, STAND AND DELIVER (which was my favorite part of all four years of high school math classes), and I guess DEAD POETS' SOCIETY, and then, well, and then I get stuck. DANGEROUS MINDS was painful, MONA LISA SMILE, even more so (despite the great cast that included Maggie Gyllenhaal and Topher Grace).
Why was Wild Things so popular with guys?
So instead of great teacher movies, I've altered the idea a bit: some cool, entertaining movies that feature teachers who get involved, for good or bad, with their students.
WILD THINGS (1998)
Okay, so Matt Dillon's character, Sam Lombardo, is not a teacher but a guidance counselor. For a while there, this was the favorite movie of practically every straight guy I knew, and it's easy to see why. This movie has it all: sun, girl-on-girl pool
action, twists and surprises and the grossest thing ever: auto tooth removal.
Dude! Quit obsessing! Just let her be president already!
MEAN GIRLS (2004)
I'm pretty sure Rosalind Wiseman and Tina Fey had read Margaret Atwood's novel Cat's Eye, because, while the plot isn't similar, both depict the horridness of girls in colorful, heart-wrenching ways. On the sports field, girls enjoy the show (but pretend not to) as they watch boys pummel each other, but in the halls and lunchroom, it's reversed. Girls tear each other up while boys watch with dumbfounded looks on their faces, saying nothing except the occasional "Keep me out of it." Ms . Norbury (Tina Fey's character) says it best when she tells these evil girls to stop calling each other bitches, as it only makes it easier for guys to do it. Amen, sister.
THE ROMANCE OF MARY KAY LATOURNEAU and VILI FUALAAU (1996- present)
CNN, FOX "NEWS", NBC, CBS, ABC, etc.
We watched, sometimes scandalized by the story of a 34-year-old teacher responding in the least recommended manner to a 6th grader's flirtations, sometimes disgusted by the joy on newscasters' faces as they covered and covered
and covered the story some more, and sometimes scared for the future of America. Sometimes I felt for her, though. And who's laughing now? She started a very popular trend of women wasting their perfectly good bachelor's degrees on sex with appreciative, disease-free mates (I'm talkin' to you, Debra LaFave). Plus, Vili waited for her; they've been married since May of 2005. Am I crazy to find that just a little bit romantic?
In this terrific dark comedy, Matthew Broderick stars as Jim McAllister, a high school civics teacher who just should have stayed the hell out of it.
SCHOOL OF ROCK (2003)
Usually Jack Black annoys me silly, but in this unexpectedly delightful comedy, he's great (perhaps because he's playing himself? I'm not sure). Things are rough for Black's character Dewey: He's been booted out of his band and is a sorry sack of depression on his friend's couch, until the day when he poses as his friend and accepts a long-term sub position. When his attempts at winging it don't quite work (I know that feeling), he turns the class into a band, a band
that's way better than those jerks who dumped him anyway. SCHOOL OF ROCK is funny, poignant, and shows the powerful mellowing and seductive powers of music. And I'm all for straying from the curriculum because there's a lot of learning that just can't be outlined in a lesson plan.
"Where it bubbles all the time like a giant carbonated soda . . ."
DONNIE DARKO (2001)
Through character Karen Pomeroy, Drew Barrymore reminds all of us teachers out there to be careful what books we assign to our students.
STAR WARS: EPISODE V—THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980)
Joe suggested I discuss the teachings of Yoda, and this Episode in particular, but all I know about Yoda is from the lyrics of Weird Al Yankovic songs, so I really don't know what Joe thought I should say. I could invite him to guest write again, but I opt not. Instead, I tell you this: everyone should just listen to Yoda. He's got a sense about certain things, like how he was hesitant to show Anakin the force because he sensed in him much fear. I would totally take his career counseling and used car selecting advice.
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Every other Sunday
Semi-wholesome Midwestern girl and certified Geek Magnet offers her suggestions - often new, sometimes classic - for DVDs that are definitely queue-worthy.
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