The artwork for Teaching Mrs Tingle
may feature young cuties Katie Holmes, Marisa Coughlin and Barry Watson, but the real star is the actress playing the title character: Helen Mirren. Mirren is the bitter, tyrannical teacher who, due to circumstantial evidence, believes goody two-shoes Holmes is guilty of cheating on her history final. Holmes, Coughlin and Watson go to Mirren's home to convince her that there's been a misunderstanding, but Mirren refuses to listen. Terrified that this will ruin her chances to go to college, Holmes and her compatriots knock Mirren out and tie her to her bed. Unfortunately, they haven't any idea what to do next; when Mirren awakes, the situation becomes a battle of wits in which the teenagers are hopelessly outmatched. Coughlin and Watson are pretty to look at and Holmes has some genuine talent and a lot of charm, but Mirren--who's played in Shakespeare productions on the stage and been in movies ranging from lurid and trashy (Caligula
) to eerie and arty (The Comfort of Strangers
) to lurid, trashy, eerie, and
arty (The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover
)--combines the cutting intelligence of Vanessa Redgrave, the steely will of Judi Dench and a sensual energy that any young starlet would kill for. This teen comedy-thriller is just an amusing footnote in Mirren's career, but if you've never been transfixed by this actress's mischievous sidelong glances, Teaching Mrs. Tingle
might provide a good start.--Bret Fetzer, Amazon.com
Leigh Ann Watson (Katie Holmes) is the brightest student at Grandsboro High, but her dreams of winning a college scholarship are ruined when her history teacher, Mrs Tingle (Helen Mirren), falsely accuses her of cheating. Leigh is desperate to prove her innocence, and with the help of her closest friends, hatches a plot to teach Mrs Tingle a lesson. But when events soon start to slip out of their contol, it seems that the students' plan might have a number of comic and unforseen consequences.