Mr. Holland's Opus [1995]

An earnest and at times overblown story of a music teacher's impact on those around him, Mr. Holland's Opus is at times a genuinely touching drama in the vein of It's a Wonderful Life. Richard Dreyfuss (Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind) plays an aspiring composer and musician who takes a job teaching music at a local high school to save money while he composes his music. But when his wife (Glenne Headley) becomes pregnant, Glenn Holland must put aside his dreams and address the everyday realities of his life, from the melancholy and sometimes tragic fates of his students to the discovery that the son he cherishes is deaf. Building to a highly emotional climax in which the teacher sees the impact he's had on the world around him, Mr. Holland's Opus is a showcase for a fine Oscar-nominated performance by Dreyfuss and an engaging, heartwarming story. --Robert Lane

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