When Mr. Hollands Opus came out in 1995 I thought it was going to be a run of the mill average movie. It was also a very long time since Richard Dreyfuss had a big hit, the last time probably was the “Goodbye Girl” in 1977 where he won the Academy Award for best actor. Dreyfuss is another example of a very talented actor who was once at the top of the world and the lightning never struck again for him, proving what most of already know, that the acting profession is one of the most fickle and difficult ones to get in and stay in for the long term even after you achieve great success.
Mr. Hollands Opus is about a music teacher in an average high school whose real ambition is to be a great music composer. At the beginning of the movie Holland takes the teaching job temporarily, hoping that his real life and career as a music composer will begin someday as he never stopped trying to compose a great symphony through the entire movie. This movie does a great job of reminding us all of life’s reality of having to make a living and raising a family can very often takes away our dreams and largely because of this reality Mr. Holland stays at this high school for 30 years until budget cuts take away his beloved job that eventually proved to be his true calling in life.
After a period of time Holland slowly starts to accept his new job never fully forgetting about his real dream of being a great music composer. He gets married and has a son, who turns out to be deaf which is ironic side story and caused major conflict because Mr Holland’s entire life was about sound and music. As the years go by students come and go and so does the 60’s, the hippie culture and the Vietnam War. Later in the film, Mr. Holland runs into a great singer who he meets during a school music production played by Jean Louisa Kelly. This young woman has ambitions of her own to run off to be on Broadway and slowly a relationship and almost an affair between the two of them begin, which even threatens Holland’s marriage. The musical numbers performed and especially the singing of Kelly during the school musical are outstanding and some of the best moments of the entire movie. At the end of the film, due to budget cuts the entire music department of this high school is eliminated and a surprise ceremony is organized to honor Mr. Holland. As a member of a high school band myself I found this closing scene (see vide below) as one of the best acted and emotional scenes in any movie I have ever seen.
Other outstanding actors in this film included Olympia Dukakis and William H. Macy. Richard Dreyfuss received an Academy Award nomination for this movie and in my opinion, he should have won. Mr. Holland’s Opus is an outstanding and flawless movie and a 100% must see.