The English Teacher
"The English Teacher" attempts to "ignite literary passion in young minds," but gets a failing grade.
Despite a solid cast, including narrator Fiona Shaw and Julianne Moore as titular Linda Sinclair, the script fails to illuminate the pervasive isolation of this sad "spinster." As a lonely little girl, she reads "Little Women," "Wuthering Heights," and, of course, "100 Years of Solitude." As an adult, she grades her dates (fun cameos by John Hodgman and Jim Breuer) with red marks as well as her enthusiastic (therefore unrealistic) and composed white bread high school students.
When former student and failed writer Jason (Michael Angarano, who played Jack’s son Elliot on "Will & Grace") shows up with his thesis play script, Sinclair maces him, supports him, fucks him, then supports him again. She enlists drama teacher Mr. Kapinas (sounds like penis - one of many flaccid jokes - played with too much restraint by Nathan Lane) to subvert the conservative co-principals and perform the piece as written, with suicides, et al.
The implausibilities continue as graduates and parents wander unfettered in and out of the Kingston, PA, school building. Has neither of the husband and wife screenwriting team seen the security at schools post-Sandy Hook, even post-Columbine? Does any actual teacher use a non-faculty bathroom, or have that much free time to spend at a cushy gym, or own such a nice car and house on an educator’s salary? When does a fledgling writer and peripheral faculty get such control over a production with the director impotently standing by?
And naturally there’s a Sondheim montage to show rehearsals in progress. It’s all too much and too little at the same time in a film that’s unsure if it’s a comedy (the drama department once produced a Noh version of "Oklahoma!") or a Mary Kay Letourneau redux.
"The English Teacher"
Blu-ray and DVD