"This movie is for and about teachers. "Teachers" lampoons a typical overcrowded urban high school and the group of burned-out, misfit teachers who work there. The school is being sued for graduating a student who can't read, and school administrators are more concerned about preserving the supposed-credibility of their school than with correcting the problem which led to the lawsuit. Nick Nolte plays Alex, a former idealist who has grown bitter and cynical over the years. As the movie begins, he is a drunken womanizer who may or may not show up to class. He has been allowed to continue his dysfunctional ways because his behavior fits in with that of the other teachers. All this begins to change when his deposition for the lawsuit is taken by an attorney and former student whose life he had touched. She is appalled at his loss of ideals and challenges him to again make a difference in students' lives. When his interest in teaching reawakens, his attitude becomes a problem for the administration in their quest to squelch the lawsuit. They turn on him and try to make him a scapegoat for the school's numerous problems.Many of the characters in "Teachers" are recognizable as people we have all known:School Board Member - An overbearing bureaucrat whose main emphases are compliance and minimization of bad publicity.Principal - A complete airhead whose most common response to any question is "I don't know". He hides in his office most of the time and defers all decisions to the assistant principal.Assistant principal - A capable educator and former idealist who has become bitter and cynical over the years. His current emphasis is to survive each day with the fewest number of casualties. In the end, he conspires to make his friend Alex a scapegoat in the lawsuit in order to preserve the school's dismal status quo.School secretary - A capable and unflappable matron who (along with the assistant principal) keeps the school running.School psychologist - She's the craziest person on staff. In the opening scene, she goes nuts and attacks another teacher in the office in full view of students and faculty.Gym teacher - Has a long history of having sex with students and getting them pregnant. He is passed from school to school by the school district to conceal his crime.
"Ditto" - A burned-out teacher who mimeographs worksheets for his students so that they can quietly work while he sits at the back of the room reading the newspaper. His proudest accomplishment is getting the award for "Most Orderly Classroom" several years in a row. He ends up dying behind his newspaper during class and no one even notices.The school's best teacher - Richard Mulligan plays an escaped lunatic who masquerades as a teacher until he is caught. No one ever asks to see his credentials. In a short period he becomes the school's most beloved and most effective teacher. The unspoken message here might be that you'd have to be crazy to become a teacher.Teacher union rep - A whining weasel who passes himself off as the teachers' best friend, but shamelessly sells Alex out in exchange for a meaningless concession from the school board.This film is not an indictment against teachers per-se. Rather, it is an indictment against a community that would allow such an educational system to exist. Parent and community apathy seem to be the culprits here. Consider how parents are portrayed in the film: First we learn of the parents who filed the lawsuit around which the film revolves. It is apparent they were less concerned about their son's education than about the money and/or notoriety to be gained from the lawsuit. (Surely they must have known their son couldn't read prior to graduation). Later we meet a set of divorcing parents who are more concerned about antagonizing each other than about meeting their son's needs. When Alex tries to help their talented-but-misguided son, they converge on the school to thwart his efforts. These are not the actions of parents concerned about education.Community apathy has allowed the school system to become more concerned about its image than with education, which leaves teachers caught hopelessly in the middle. Without the support of parents, the school board, or the teachers union, they languish. It could happen anywhere, despite our obligation as a society to prevent it. "Teachers" has a B-movie feel and the writing could be better. But it conveys a powerful message and is particularly interesting to teachers who can see some reality in it."
More real than you realize
B. Cline | Goddard, KS | 12/10/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I have to wonder if some of the reviewers have ever been a teacher or remember their school days. I have been a teacher for 22 years and saw this movie when in college. It was funny then and is very real to me now. This movie hits home in more ways than those outside the realm of education will ever know. (one of those walk a mile in my moccasins things)
As a teacher, I have seen most everything this movie depicts (all at one suburban school district that most would consider an excellent school). I have seen the crime. I have seen the humor. I have seen the excellent teaching. I have seen the very pathetic teaching. I've seen the "Ditto" teachers. I've seen the screwed up kids with the even more screwed up parents. I've seen the lack of concern for the true well being of kids from everybody. I've also seen the truly caring and excellent teacher raked over the hot coals for daring to care and as a result simply want to give up and quit (Nolte's character).
Don't minimalize this movie. If you want to see a rare and real glimpse of what goes on behind the doors of the education profession, take a look at this very entertaining film. The fact that it mirrors reality is both very sad and enlightening.
Note: Finally came out on DVD though I'm a little upset that is was not a very clean mastering. Only marginally better than the original VHS in quality."
WHERE IS THE DVD???
Creashuns | N. California | 01/11/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie is seriously overdue for a DVD Release!! This Movie has some big name stars in it some in small parts; Laura Dern-who gets pregnant by a teacher, Crispin Glover who always plays an odd character..... Others in the starring roles, Morgan Freeman,Richard Muligan, Ralph Macchio,Lee Grant,Jobeth Williams, Nick Nolte, and Judd Hirsch (who gives a great performance here!). The soundtreack is great as well-one that I used to have on Tape. Overall this movie is a Gem of School Flicks, There is only one thing missing - the DVD Format!!"
Teachers -- An Attitude Adjuster
Creashuns | 02/08/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I purchased my first copy Teachers used a long time ago. I'd pull it out whenever, like the lead character, Alex, I began to feel that I "couldn't make a difference." Over the years I wore it out and came to ... (the website) to buy another copy.This movie has an uplifting message that can inspire both educators and parents. It's a good watch."
Duality and Star Power
rdale444 | STAFFORD, TX United States | 02/14/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"< Teachers > is criticized in these reviews for the very duality that makes it so much like reality. There are true tragedies, and truly comedic moments, that occur in back-to-back moments in an everyday high school. There are also a batch of famous people in the film.The movie is more like reality than most movies of its era, and is tedious for people not in the education industry or paying close enough attention to understand what is going on. It is funny, then poignant, then exasperating and finally hopeful. Christopher Plummer, the crazy-but-outstanding teacher, is truly inspiring, while whatzisname, the Vice Principal, is the self-serving authority figure we all love to hate. Other teachers are lampooned just like the characters one would expect to find in a more gothic version of Fast Times at Ridgemont High.But real high school IS duality-- the juxtaposition of the giddy, the outlandish, the hypothetical and the grim, played out all day long.Nolte and Williams play the dual sides of the stereotypical teachers who are in the middle, trapped somewhere between hope and desperation as they try to do their best with what they have. They give good performances, but it's only the teachers in the audience that can fully identify with how the characters must truly feel. In my opinion, it's a film that's more or less an inside joke-- written by teachers and school board members, for themselves.Ralph Maccio plays his Outsiders character, more or less, which was no stretch for him despite the fact that he was about 24 years old when the film was shot.I haven't seen the film since Columbine. It would be interesting to go back and view it from a more modern perspective."