School Of Life
I am a big fan of Ryan Reynolds. The roles that he takes on, whether in comedies or thrills, are almost always perfect for him. If you're one of the few people who didn't watch National Lampoon's: Van Wilder you really should. The role he takes in this movie is kind of the same character but a bit more serious subject...and also...no Tara Reid trying to act in this movie!
A lot of the synopsizes you'll find online will give you a description that is not at all what the movie is about. So here's a real one. Matt Warner (played by David Paymer) is a teacher trying to live in the shadow of his father (a great cameo by John Astin) who was a favored teacher at the middle school they both taught at. After his father dies, Mr. D (Reynolds) comes to take over his father's old teaching position. Warner wants to prove to his son, his school, and to himself that he can continue the tradition of a Warner being teacher of the year for almost 45 years in a row. However, the younger Mr. D is quickly beloved by the school for treating the students like actual people and making learning fun. Warner goes to many lengths to try and hold onto hope that he, and not Mr. D., will be teacher of the year.
Grade - B-
To try and give you a better picture of what this movie is, imagine Dead Poets Society meet Van Wilder. It's got comedy, it's got a lot of inspirational, heartfelt messages, and it has Ryan Reynolds being so gosh darn charming. I am completely serious when I say that I wish I could be as smooth as Reynold is. I don't know if he has a thing for these inspirational characters who are oh-so-smooth or if he is like that in real life. I do know, however, that he makes it hard for me not to have a little man-crush on him.
As the story progresses you get to see what drives Mr. D. to inspire students the way he does. You also see the quirky ways Warner bumbles his attempts to become teacher of the year. While the way the kids react in the movie isn't all that believable, I can put aside actuality and appreciate the movie's attempt to show a "what it could be like" scenario. The last quarter of the movie is very charming and endearing. It's also interesting to note that while Reynolds carries the charm through the first half of the movie, Paymer's character carries it through the rest of the movie. The ending, has a beautiful touch to it.