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Surprisingly entertaining documentary with very likable people. I guess this movie should come with a disclaimer or a warning: This film may show minorities and other Americans saying positive things about the United States. If your one of those people who have a difficult time digesting such things, you should probably skip this film. Otherwise, it's a treat. I'm uncertain why the filmmaker felt the need to validate the theme by interviewing celebrities, but I guess that's the in thing. Trust me, this film is VERY interesting, and celebrates the concept of individualism, innovation, and hard work, from the man who repairs typewriters to the musical act that uses only typewriters.
The best part of the film is that it's so unHollywood. I kept imaging what the film would be like if it had been made in Hollywood with the "dumbing down" that goes on there. We'd be preached to like children. Yet this Flemish film about high school bullying somehow avoids that. Rather than told how to think, we're shown. But I wouldn't say it's quintessentially European either. (The protagonist doesn't have sex with his mother and younger brother then slit his wrist after punching out a plate glass window.) There's very little politics in this film, which is something a Hollywood production would be saturated with---"If only we had more money in the school system and unions were given more control over the school boards, NONE of this would happen!" Perhaps that's what makes this film so overall enjoyable: it's a story about real people without the strident voice of the filmmaker bullying you into submission. I also enjoy seeing a side of Europe few Americans are shown. Yes, even Europe has bullies, and nasty ones at that.
Would have worked much better had the filmmakers cut out about 25 unnecessary minutes, including the sappy "hippy" flashbacks which do nothing to carry the movie forward. We're already given clues when time shuffles ahead. Why try to mimic Forest Gump which I hated anyway? Olympia Dukasis's character was completely unnecessary and all her scenes should've ended up on the cutting room floor. There was no purpose to her role. The first ten minutes of the film were heavy and useless. There were a few jarring scenes when the filmmakers inserted slapstick (racing to see his newborn baby at hospital) and long drawn out serious scenes with wife--those should've been chopped in half. Other than that, there was an entertaining film in there somewhere, especially with Richard Dreyfuss's wonderful performance. He ages realistically, becomes more slumped and slower. By the time the 90s role around, I forgot what he looked like as a young enthusiastic 30 year old. All in all, Mr. Holland's Opus was a typical Hollywood production that tried to do 80 different things simultaneously. Sometimes simple is best. However, I do recommend the film if you can come across it for free on Comcast like I did. After all these years of making fun of the title (we all know what I mean), I feel kinda foolish now that I've seen it. I did get teary eyed a few times.