Clockwork Mice is a winning film taking you to a Special Needs school with new teacher Ian Hart for a rude awakening. At times it's a bit like Faulty Towers, and is obviously deliberately playing for laughs much of the time, while having a serious core as well. Hart's character has a tough initial phase until he sets up a cross-country running club, and becomes particularly concerned with a boy whose façade hides a very unhappy family history. Combining sensitivity over this with plenty of bad behaviour from the pupils, the film finds room for romantic hijinks - Hart getting caught in a jockstrap by a female colleague, then getting into a clinch with her (still in it) only to be burst in on by the head and squatting behind the door in the nick of time ... I only wish we'd seen him walking around like that for longer. Hart's physique is alluringly shown in a number of scenes, in fact, with frequent running sequences in flimsy shorts, and female and gay viewers might be inclined to agree with a second colleague's appraisal from a window that he has 'a nice arse'. He's also very dedicated to the kids in his charge. It's not a film that looks into the subject deeply - for that you have to look elsewhere (A Child Is Waiting by Cassavetes deals movingly with the plight of mentally handicapped children), but within its broader genre it is affecting and funny, well acted, and has much to commend it, particularly Hart and the young actor who plays the fourteen-year-old Conrad. It makes you feel compassion for these youngsters whose trauma we don't see, but nevertheless are led to imagine in some degree. It's like a cross between Chariots of Fire and The Chorus, with a bit of Dead Poet's Society - Hart tries to interest them in the great English poets - but outstrips all of these, I would say, in its sincerity and visual brio, like helium-filled balloons that will rise in spite of the sad motif printed on the side.