A Respectable Cast Can’t Bring The English Teacher Any Laughs


A film seemingly produced only because it boasts enough sizable roles to entice multiple stars, Craig Zisk’s The English Teacher reveals that a respectable cast and much noisy boisterousness isn’t enough to generate a single laugh. Introduced by a stuffy female British narrator as a spinster with no marriage prospects, high school English teacher Linda (Julianne Moore) finds her staid, solitary life upended when former student Jason (Michael Angarano) returns home from New York with an unpublished play that she and drama teacher Carl (Nathan Lane) adore and demand to stage. Close-minded small-town administrators who’d rather put on Our Town soon prove the least of Linda’s problems once she sleeps with Jason and—after he proves to be a two-timing sleazeball—their inappropriate tryst is exposed. The ensuing shame, however, is no worse than the embarrassment caused by watching Moore and company flounder through this quirky indie, which when not dully mocking artistic pretensions or referencing A Tale of Two Cities is busy wasting time shoehorning Greg Kinnear into the action as Jason’s supposedly unsupportive dad. It’s a cartoony stew of unlikable characters, albeit one whose most repugnant is still easy to identify: He’s the loser unironically posting Jack Kerouac quotes on Facebook.