Movie Review: "The English Teacher"

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Julianne Moore plays a beloved English teacher whose repressed personal life exists in stark contrast to the passion she brings to the classroom. Her routine is upended when a former star pupil returns to her small town after failing miserably as a playwright. Greg Kinnear, Lily Collins & Michael Angarano co-star.
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Julianne Moore slums-it big time in “The English Teacher”, a comedy about what i’m not even exactly sure. What I do know is that the script by Don and Stacey Chariton (far removed from their writing of volume 5 of the “Silver Surfer” origin story for Marvel) is as predictable as is it laughless.

They have Moore play English teacher Linda Sinclair, a 40-ish single woman enchanted with literature to the point where no man can even compete. Jason Sherwood (Michael Angarano), a former student of hers, is a discouraged playwright desperately looking for approval and for someone to read his unproduced play he wrote while in New York. Linda and the school’s drama teacher (Nathan Lane, being so much better than the script) fall in love with the play and decide to give it life on the High School stage.

As pointless as that sounds, the rest of the movie follows suit. Linda and Jason have an affair that anybody could see coming. They end it in the next scene, but not before Linda becomes known as a pariah at the school and jealous when Jason goes after the play’s leading lady (Lily Collins). Linda also decides not to tell Jason that she’s changing the tragic ending of his play at the behest of the antsy school personnel who think it’s too dark.

What could have been an interesting satire on political correctness in high schools is instead just a waiting game, as Linda squirms her way through the movie until she finally decides to “fix” everything in the end. Even the will-she-or-wont-she find a guy element, which the constant voice-over narration continues to allude to, is simple to figure out due to the simplistic handling of her relationship with Jason’s unsupportive father (Greg Kinnear), a man she both despises but has a playful chemistry with.

Television director Craig Zisk tries to go for a light touch but it’s so light that the movie just feels like empty air. But much of that credit can also go to these screenwriters. Shockingly little actually happens in “The English Teacher”, but worst of all, it feels like an overlong, mundane sitcom with nothing even remotely funny of note.