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Teaching Mrs. Tingle

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Teaching Mrs. Tingle

Starring: Katie Holmes, Helen Mirren
Director: Kevin Williamson
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 96 Minutes
Release Date: August 1999
Genre: Horror

*Also starring: Marisa Coughlan, Lesley Ann Warren, Vivica Fox, Michael McKean, Liz Stauber, Jeffrey Tambor

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1.  Susan Granger review follows no stars
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Review by Susan Granger
0 stars out of 4

Filmed under the title "Killing Mrs. Tingle," this demented teen comedy is about high-school students who kidnap and torture their nasty history teacher. But, after shooting incident at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, in April, the title was quickly changed. Kevin Williamson wrote the screenplay before "Scream" and long before TV's "Dawson's Creek," but he couldn't sell it until he became famous. Now he's using it to make his directing debut. The plot revolves around a bitchy, sarcastic, sadistic schoolmarm (flamboyant Helen Mirren) who terrifies everyone, even the principal (Michael McKean) - whom she pointedly rebukes for his alcoholism problem. Her students' anger boils over when Mrs. Tingle unfairly thwarts a college scholarship for her most ambitious, over-achieving student (Katie Holmes) by accusing the girl of stealing a copy of the final history exam. The theft was actually arranged by another student (Marisa Coughlan) and her boy-friend (Barry Watson). When the trio go to the teacher's house in hopes of clarifying the situation, they're mocked by terrible Mrs. Tingle (think of Margaret Hamilton as the cruel, cackling Wicked Witch in "The Wizard of Oz") and the confrontation gets out of hand. Mrs. Tingle winds up tied to the headboard of her Victorian bed as the enraged students make macabre mayhem. Will they kill her or won't they? Obviously not - since this is a PG-13 movie - and clever Mrs. Tingle can outwit the dumb, childish clods with mind games even when she's in bondage, but that's still no excuse for plodding caricatures rather than sympathetic characters. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Teaching Mrs. Tingle" is a tedious, tawdry 1. There's simply nothing amusing about this mean-spirited glorification of violent revenge.

Copyright 2000 Susan Granger

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