News Column

School's out for predictable 'English Teacher'

May 23, 2013


By Lou Lumenick

LIKE so many small films carrying the Tribeca Films label, this seriocomic farce has its moments, but fails to live up to the promise of a starry cast headed by Julianne Moore. She plays the title character, who's so repressed she has no idea how unhappy her life is (complete with a montage of her dates with a long string of losers).

This changes when a former prize pupil (Michael Angarano) returns home to their sleepy Pennsylvania town with a play rejected in New York City tucked under his arm. It's good enough to excite the teacher as well as the drama instructor (Nathan Lane), who wants to stage the autobiographical work as a high school production, never mind that it ends with the protagonist's suicide.

Director Craig Zisk, a respected TV veteran ("The Larry Sanders Show") flubs the arbitrary shifts in tone in married couple Dan and Stacy Chariton's contrived script, which has Moore bedding Angarano only to lose him (to the play's female lead, Lily Collins) and her job - at least until Lane, who's allowed to mercilessly mug, has a nervous breakdown.

Greg Kinnear, as the playwright's exasperated father, steals the movie by underplaying. Petty larceny.

Running time: 93 minutes. Rated R (sex, profanity). Opens tomorrow at the Cinema Village, 12th Street and University Place.

Originally published by Lou Lumenick.

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