Rating: Rated "PG-13"
Thatís right! Three stars! Above average! Thanks to the magnificent presence of Helen Mirren (you know her from many classy movies and playing the female inspector on PBS English import mysteries) and a better than usual script by one Kevin Williamson, I thoroughly enjoyed this high school horror flick where nobody dies and the good kids win out in the end.
Mrs. Tingle represents one of those teachers (in this plot, history) that everybody remembers from high school, the teacher with an attitude problem that nobody except the worst suck-up in the school seemed to please. In this representation of teaching today, after being roundly thumped by Mrs. Tingle for their history projects, three students decide to take their revenge: The first and best project (a witchís diary) belongs to Leigh Ann (Katie Holmes), the brightest girl in class but one that Mrs. Tingle resents through pure jealousy; the second hated attempt is the cute and perky kid who wants to be an actress (Marisa Coughlan) and her very well done imitation of Marilyn Monroe talking about the Kennedy years--and Mrs. Tingle hates the movies; and the third is Luke (Barry Watson), that nice guy who doesnít particularly know what he wants out of life. Heís on Tingleís hate list because his history project turned out to be a carefully picked stone that he drops on Tingle's desk, saying: "Plymouth Rock."
Now remember, suspend belief as this is a story made up for entertainment purposes and not meant to be an actual reflection on life as we know it. Donít bother wondering how Mrs. Tingle can live in house thatís a first-rate museum (maybe insurance from her ex-husband), just sit back and be wooed by good acting and good lines in the kind of movie were itís usual to kill off at least twenty teenagers before the end credits. "Teaching Mrs. Tingle" is rated PG-13 because the kids do attack the teacher and there are a few off-color remarks but frankly itís far milder than most of evening television (especially on the Fox channel). Itís also great to see Molly Ringwald in a bit part (how fast the stars fall!) and an unbilled Lesley Ann Warren as Leigh Annís poor downtrodden waitress-type mother.