Mr. Holland's Opus Movie Poster Image

Mr. Holland's Opus

A music teacher inspires his students.
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1997
  • Running Time: 143 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Music and arts education are promoted heavily throughout the film, as are rights for the disabled. Mr. Holland is at times selfish and immature about his responsibilities, but learns to step up by the end.

Not applicable

A brief discussion about sex. Two male students briefly walk in front of the camera holding hands.


A character signs "a-hole" in sign language.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the film includes a lengthy subplot involving Mr. Holland's crush on one of his students. Although he does not act on his feelings, Mr. Holland condones her plan to skip town before high school graduation. Beyond this, there is little for parents to worry about. Cole calls Mr. Holland an a-hole in sign language. Mr. Holland and Iris have a brief discussion about sex. Two male students briefly walk in front of the camera holding hands.

What's the story?

In MR. HOLLAND'S OPUS, Richard Dreyfuss plays Glenn Holland, a young, aspiring, composer and musician who takes a position teaching a high school music class in hopes of saving enough money to play as a career. When Glenn's wife (Glenne Headly) unexpectedly gets pregnant, reality sets in. He must put his dreams on hold and remain a teacher indefinitely. Over time, Glenn finds that he enjoys teaching and being a father. His worst fear is realized, however, when he learns that his son is deaf. Unable to accept his son's disability, Holland throws himself into his work, preferring to connect with his students instead of his own family. Eventually, Holland comes around, acknowledging his faults, and makes amends by designing a concert that both hearing and non-hearing audience members can enjoy. In the film's highly emotional climax, Glenn finally grasps the magnitude of his influence, as three generations of former students come together to honor him.

Is it any good?


Mr. Holland's Opus offers a poignant (albeit sappy) look at personal sacrifice, responsibility, and the impact teachers can have on students beyond the classroom. It's less Stand and Deliver, more It's a Wonderful Life. Richard Dreyfuss gives the performance of his career as the wily, often frustrated Glenn Holland, breathing life into a character that could easily have fallen into caricature territory.

The film as a whole is not perfect. In its effort to portray Glenn as a flawed individual, the lengthy script sometimes goes too far, especially in regard to his inappropriate relationship with a student and his blatant disregard of Cole's social development. Despite these imperfections the movie is definitely worth watching, particularly during those moments of inspiration when Holland discovers his love of teaching.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about coping with disability, teachers who make a difference, and the importance of arts and music education. They can also discuss important events in history as they take place in the film, such as the death of a student in Vietnam and the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and John Lennon. Why does Mr. Holland react so severely when John Lennon dies? Is there a musician or music group that you feel that strongly about? In the film, Mr. Holland suggests that the roots of rock music lie in classical music. Parents may discuss with their kids how music from their generation has influenced current popular music. What do bands/musicians like The Strokes, Black Eyed Peas, and Kanye West have in common with The Kinks, Sly and the Family Stone, and Marvin Gaye?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:January 17, 1997
DVD/Streaming release date:August 24, 1999
Cast:Glenne Headly, Olympia Dukakis, Richard Dreyfuss
Director:Stephen Herek
Studio:Buena Vista
Topics:High school, Music and sing-along
Run time:143 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:mild language

This review of Mr. Holland's Opus was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Kid, 12 years old April 9, 2008

Not a school Movie

This movie I don't believe is a good school movie because when we watched it the reactions of some kids were highly immature. I am in grade 7 and we watched it with grade 8's. When the gay guys were walking in front of the High-School some kids laughed and my friends dad is gay so she felt really left out. I would advise teachers not to play it in a school atmosphere with kids my age. (Around 12)
Parent of a 13 year old Written byTsion March 6, 2009

A Moving and Meaningful Family Film...

Richard Dreyfuss is the best thing in MR. HOLLAND'S OPUS, a moving drama about a simple music teacher who impacts generations of children and learns his life has unexpected meaning. As the music teacher, Holland, Dreyfuss gives a wonderful performance, and he conveys the film's messages and morals perfectly. This is a great family film; you should overlook mild objectionable content simply because it is such a meaningful story. There is one "a*shole" is sign language, and Holland flirts with a beautiful student, who invites him to run away with her, but he declines. This is a wonderful family movie, and some corny moments pale in comparison to the moving and inspiring messages.
Parent Written byMatt B. October 29, 2015

Great movie but some kids may get bored with it.

Some young kids may not find this entertaining but it's a great movie.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models