A young composer, Glenn Holland (Richard Dreyfuss), is forced by economic considerations to take a job as a music teacher in a local high school in order to save up enough money to support him during the realization of his dream as a full-time composer. Already he had been working on a symphony in his spare time and he expected the long summer vacations to provide ample time for him to continue his work. Fate, however, intervenes and his wife Iris, played by Glenne Headly, soon finds herself pregnant with their son.
The picture follows the lives of Glenn Holland, his son Cole, and Iris as Holland attempts to reconcile the stresses of his family life against the demands of the school and the formidible presence of his muse. At the school, headed by Principal Jacobs (Olympia Dukakis), he is guided along the path to being a true teacher and a positive influence of the new generation by the principal and the head coach Bill Meiser (Jay Thomas).
In the end, he is forced to retire and he feels as though he has accomplished nothing. The schoolboard has dismissed him as if he were useless, his symphony, if ever finished, is not likely to make him well known, and his son and wife resent all the attention and effort that the school took from them. He discovers, however, that the little acts of a lifetime add up to a powerful amount of influencial changes and his life, althougn not spent the way he envisioned it, was not wasted.
This is a film which will instill hope in your heart if you have ever hoped to make a postive difference in this rather mixed-up world. Through Glenn Holland's struggles, we come to realize that although it sometimes seems as if we are getting nowhere, our actions and our beliefs do have an effect on the people around us. As a teacher, Holland had the opportunity to shape and influence several generations of young people; they became the notes that comprised his musical symphony.
The trials and tribulations that occur to Holland along the way seem quite realistic. Although I am uncertain, it seems likely that his story is someone's real story--maybe even your story. While at times, it can seem overly sentimental and manipulative, the feelings it evokes within you are not forced; they are a genuine reaction to the passion and the pathos in the movie.This is bound to be a movie which strongly appeals to women, much as did Terms of Endearment as it is definitely a movie of feelings and emotions. I recommend taking lots of tissues; even the men will have trouble controlling themselves towards the end.
The soundtrack of the movie spans the ages, from Bach to the Beatles, whatever Holland thought he could use to get through to the adolescants in his classes. In an attempt to get through to his son and his friends through music, Holland demonstrates a way for the deaf too to enjoy the variety of music.
I give this five stars out of five. It may not win any awards, but it is a solid drama movie which will lead you to despair, shake you to tears, and inspire you. Women are especially likely to enjoy this, as well as people interested in music and in the deaf. Remember: take lots of tissues!