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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Oct. 5, 1984)
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United Artists describes "Teachers"
as an irreverent but sensitive
comedy. The two concepts are dif
ficult to imagine together, but Teachers"
does make a gold star effort and earns
the proverbial apple for a moderate suc
cess. For the hordes of teen-agers flocking to
a high-school film, there are enough semi
crude jokes, pranks and laughs on the
authority figures to make the movie nt
least as entertaining as "Welcome Back
For adults who will flock to anything
with Nick Nolte and the television viewers
who want to see more of Judd Hlrsch,
there's enough of Nolte's he-man cha
risma and Hirsch's always-sensitive act
ing to please the most critical bunch.
On that front, "Teachers" is at its best.
Nolte is the central figure, a good but
slowly burning out teacher who wants to
do what's right. He wants to teach his
class about life, even if it has a tendency
to stray away from his social studies
Hirsch is Nolte's friend and the vice
principal of John F. Kennedy High School.
The two clash when a former student,
now a lawyer (JoBeth Williams), presses
the school for background on why a
former student graduated without learn
ing to read. That student is suing the
school and the school system.
Hirsch and the rest of the public
school brass want to suppress the depo
sitions of the student's teachers, while
Nolte battles with the decision to tell all
and risk the job or tell nothing and risk
Between the case, Nolte and Williams
struggle through a relationship spawned
by her old crush on him, and Nolte strug
gles to get through to a school-bad-luck
story played by Ralph Macchio from "The
"Teachers" has most of the elements
that could stand alone in many films
,4 ' .
Fhotot Courtssy of United Artiats
"Teachers:" Irreverent End sensitive?
love, a troubled but good kid, a betrayal,
not to mention the various kinks of the
JFK teaching staff one of whom sits in
the back of class and nods off to sleep
behind the daily paper, and another who
specializes in impregnating the junior
It also has an annoying tendency to
depend on pseudo-soliloquies to get its
points across. Each of the main charac
ters has his or her own spotlight at least
once to deliver some message of pure
intent. But that keeps the film from
becoming a cinematic "Kotter" as the
words speak of real, common problems.
Still, the messages come off so much bet
ter when two people are talking to each
It's that message that should keep
"Teachers" high on the box-office lists for
a few weeks. As was its intent, the film
shows the troubles everyday people face
in big city public schools and the various
pitfalls in almost every option available to
them. Thankfully, it doesn't say there is
no hope. But then, just as thankfully, it
also doesn't scream that a few good men
and women can change the whole scene.
It does encourage its audience, and maybe
a few teachers somewhere, that, since the
crux of the problem is really out of the
individual's hands, a success can equal a
hundred failures...and those are pretty
good odd in the big city.
Producer Aaron Russo said the film's
goal was to be funny and real.
"We didn't want to do an exploitation
film," he said. "We wanted to make a film
that gets into the educational system as it
really is and deals with it in an intelligent
The effect of the intelligence and sensi
tivity is kind of like a high school educa
tional film. The kind that they really
should show when they ask, "What's life
like in good old JFK?"
That would have gotten boring and
annoying on its own, but laughs here and
there from soap alumni Richard Mulligan
(who plays a semi-insane man who mas
querades as a substitute history teacher)
and Allen Garfield (an easily intimidated
teacher who is bitten and robbed by one
of the less-desireable students), as well as
Nolte's Eddie Murphy inspired wit when
the serious message becomes easier to
"Teachers" is by far the best film of
Russo's short career, which includes "The
Rose" and "Trading Places." That's because
the distinguished cast reminds you that
this is not to be taken lightly. After Hirsch
and Nolte, Macchio and Williams ensure
themselves of more roles, if not critical
acclaim, with strong adaptable perform
ances. Macchio, 23, will have the distinction of
becoming a teen-age heart throb as a
wimp in one film and a heavy in the other.
He's still not the nightmarish teen-age
hoodlum you might expect, but there's
enought bitterness in the role to make it
stand far away from The Karate Kid." Wil
liams, who has appeared in two television
series The Day After and "Adam"
since "Poltergeist," also may get overlooked
in her second multi-name film. The last
was The Big Chill."
Academy Award winner Lee Grant,
Mulligan, Royal Dano and Garfield are
impressive in small roles. The bland commercial-metal
soundtrack with .38 Spe
cial, ZZ Top, Night Ranger, Bob Seger and
Freddie Mercury of Queen is rarely forced
upon the audience. Strange they couldn't
find better music, but even Queen can't
tarnish this excellent film. Teachers"
opens tonight at the Douglas Three
ovie provides glimpse o
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Review by Roger Quiring
Daily Nebraskan Staff Writer
The setting is Waxahachie, Texas, circa 1935. The
movie is "Places In The Heart." The movie previewed at
Sheldon last Saturday night for those lucky enough to
have received passes from UPC. For those not so fortu
nate, the movie opens tonight at the Plaza Theater. See
The movie is well done. The themes of death, romance,
racism and hard work center around the Spaulding
family. Less than five minutes into the fuck, Sheriff
Spaulding, acted by Ray Baker, is casually, though
accidentally, shot. The loss of the head of the Spaulding
household provides the impetus for the development of
Edna Spaulding, played by Sally Field. '
Field's acting is flawless as she transforms from wife
to widow to a fiercely independent individual. Her strug
gles to fulfill the role of parent and to keep the bank from
foreclosing on the family farm are starkly realistic. The
struggle entails adding John Malkovitch as Mr. Will to
her household.. Malkovitch portrays a bitter, totally
blind World War I veteran. His acting is great.
The movie also is about racism. The portrayal hurts. It
provides an accurate picture of the effects of prejudice.
Danny Glover is Moze, a black-transient field worker
who becomes part of the Spaulding household. His
human decency sharply contrasts with the social con
text of the times.
A theme of romance and love is presented in the
person of Ed Harris. Wayne Loma acts the role of Ed
Harris. He commits adultery with his best friend's wife,
somewhat of a poor choice in a small town. The rewin
ning of his own wife provides a touching view of the
powers of love and forgiveness. The love found within
the extended Spaulding household also presents a pow
erful view of the family.
The movie is worth the money. Last weekend's
audience lowd 't. Take a frien d and see if you will.
Service-oriented society thrives on annoyi
"Everything put together falls apart."
Howard Cooper, 1974.
Fixing things. Always easier said than
done. Lately it seems my life is filled with
the act of repair. The curtains that fell
down last night, a friend's muffler needed
a coat hanger, a bicycle flat, a broken
relationship. A little glue, a fresh coat of
paint, maybe a shoulder to lean on.
Planned obsolescence will probably be
the downfall of Western civilization. No
one needs to tell us that things don't last
as long as they used to, wheter it's an oil
filter, a book binding or a marriage. Every
thing is wearing out at a rapid rate.
Undoubtedly, the trend in the United
States toward a service-oriented society
nurtures the progression of breakdowns
and breakups. People's lives are preoccu
pied with getting things patched up. Law
yers, mechanics and computer repair
men are our most indispensable com
modity. "Honey, I think the microwave is on the
"We're sorry but our computer is down
"Elevator temporarily out of service.
Use the stairs. Have a nice day,"
The sound of things falling apart is
becoming an increasing din. The Ameri
can economic spirit of competition is
supposed to insure that the best product
is rewarded with public demand. It takes
only a quick glance at a Popeil Pocket
fisherman to know that smart marketing
creates its own audience.
Andy Warhol is a smart guy. He's taken
the idea of commercialism, turned it into
"art," recommercialized it, and through
repackaging, came out with a product
that's new and palatable.
Since I was a kid, IVe used a Campbell's
soup can to hold my pens and pencils.
Thanks to Andy's genius of commerce, it
is now a "pop art" container.
This is an instant, microwaved, freeze
dried, satellite, computerized world we
live in. Love it or leave it or call some
one to get it fixed.
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