A Film Review By Jason L. King
|Rating: Rated PG-13 for sexual content and thematic issues.
Starring:Julia Roberts, Julia Stiles, Maggie Gyllenhal, Kirsten Dunst
Directed By:Mike Newell
There is nothing like a little feel good flick to kick off your Holiday season. Every Holiday season or at least once a year, Hollywood tries to rehash the story of one Teacher who changes the lives of his or her students. First it was Robin Williams leading the way with Dead Poets Society, then it became Kevin Klein’s turn in the Emperor’s Club and now the torch is passed on to Julia Roberts.
Julia Roberts returns to the screen as a young teacher who tries to teach at ritzy private prep school for women. Her students are some of the youngest and brightest young girls in the country, however they all have only one goal in life; that goal being to find a husband and take care of him for the rest of their lives. However, Roberts has a different idea for these girls and tries to challenge them and inspire them in ways that they never imagined.
This fluffy film is almost the exact same film we have seen time and time again. Everyone hates the new teacher because they do things different than normal and actually challenge their students, and by the end of the film, they love them for the ways they have changed them. It’s your standard feel-good popcorn flick, nothing new and something easily forgettable within a year, mostly because we have seen it so many times before. Films about great teachers have flooded the box offices, some being successes and some failures. Titles such as To Sir with Love, Dead Poets Society, Dangerous Minds, The Emperor’s Club all come to mind at a moments notice and are just a few of a trillion titles in this genre.
Nothing great comes out of the acting in this film. Julia Roberts is playing Julia Roberts again, and the role isn’t that far of a stretch for her from anything we have seen her in before. She so desperately wants a film that will put her back up to her “Erin Brockovich” status she was once in, but Mona Lisa Smile isn’t quite the film to do that for her. Her supporting cast includes a cast full of lovely young ladies, such as Kirsten Dunst, Julia Stiles, and Maggie Gyllenhall all playing “ritzy snobbish upper-class” girls you normally wouldn’t care about if you met them in real life. All of them do a great job in their roles, but you almost start to wonder if maybe the reason is because upper class and snobby is the way they are in real life.
In the end, if you are looking for something to pass the time, this might be the film for you, but in all honesty it isn’t that big of a deal if you miss out on this one. This isn’t the must see movie of the year, and in all honesty it has been done better before. Don’t rush out to see this flick, it just really isn’t that great to justify the ticket price and the concession stand prices of your local theater.