Helen Mirren plays the title character, Mrs. Tingle. She's a history professor who seems to hate everyone. Katie Holmes plays Leigh Ann, a bright student who needs to become valedictorian in order to gain a much needed scholarship to college. But when Leigh Ann hands in her final project to Mrs. Tingle, Mrs. Tingle just laughs in her face. When Leigh Ann is caught with a copy of Mrs. Tingle's final exam in her bag, Leigh Ann and her two friends Jo and Luke (Marisa Coughlan and Barry Watson respectively) head over to Mrs. Tingle's house to try and explain. From there things start to happen that can only happen in the movies. Kidnapping, assault with a crossbow, battery, getting a gym teacher drunk, blackmail, all the things a normal high school student would do to try and get an A. Right? Or did I once again go to the wrong high school?
First of all, even thought it was a black comedy, I found a lot of things hard to believe. Like everything that happened once they got to Mrs. Tingle's house. Let me get this straight, you have your history professor tied up to the bed, you're planning on blackmailing her, but decide midway through to have sex in front of the fireplace? They're supposed to be high school students for god's sake. I'm not saying high school students aren't supposed to be having sex, but you would think that after doing things that could land you in jail for the rest of your life, your mind might be somewhat occupied elsewhere.
I wasn't sure how I was supposed to react to the characters either. I hated Mrs. Tingle, and I think that's how I was supposed to feel. But I also thought the three kids were whiney bunch of idiots. Leigh Ann, supposedly the brightest of the bunch, started off not wanting any of this to happen, but decided to go along with it. Then she really got into it with her witty conversation with Mrs. Tingle. Then she felt bad about taking blackmail pictures. Then she got really pissed when Mrs. Tingle broke up her friendship with Jo. Well make up your mind! Are you in this or not? And why would someone so bright jeopardize her life like this? Go to community college for 2 years then head to a better university. Jo, for some odd reason, felt the need to believe a woman they have tied up to the bed, rather than even talk to her best friend. And Luke... had no interest in his character whatsoever.
What I'm saying here is this, I didn't really like this movie. Watching Katie Holmes is the only thing that held my interest at all. The characters were a bunch of contradictions, the plot was interesting, but not well thought out, and the dialogue was pure Williamson, trying to make these kids sound older and more mature than they were, and failing in my opinion. So overall, I would take a pass on Teaching Mrs. Tingle and go see something else.