Teaching Mrs. Tingle

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Stars: Helen Mirren, Katie Holmes, Barry Watson

Kevin Williamson, better known for his “Scream” screenplays, brings us “Teaching Mrs. Tingle”, in his directorial debut. This is a non-screamer but a diabolically funny teen oriented comedy-thriller starring that wonderful British actress Helen Mirren as everybody’s worst nightmare in a teacher. Mrs. Tingle is the destroyer of ideals, a malevolent soul whose goal in life is to drag her students down and lock them away in the Godforsaken town that she herself has been forced to endure all those long years. Graduate and move on? Not if Mrs. Tingle has anything to do with it.

Graduation is near and top student Leigh Ann Watson (Katie Holmes) is hopeful she’ll make class valedictorian over class snob Trudy Tucker and get a scholarship to college. She desperately needs an A on her history class project but standing in her way is the devil herself – Mrs. Tingle, a woman feared by student and staff alike.

After cute bad boy Luke Churner (Barry Watson from TV’s “7th Heaven”) miscalculates a plan to distribute a stolen final exam from Tingle, he, Leigh Ann and her best friend Jo Lynn Jordan (Marisa Coughlan) all get thrown in wickedly hot soup with Tingle threatening to take them all down.

As they try to salvage the situation, the “domino effect” comes into play. Things get sticker and sticker and pretty soon they have Mrs. Tingle tied up and gagged in her own bed, held captive for days on end as they try to figure a way to blackmail her into changing her mind. With their future lives on the line, you can bet that they work feverishly to contain the situation and Mrs. Tingle, for her part, wages psychological war against each of them, trying to turn one against the other.

The story has lots of twists and turns to keep you on edge. Mirren is wonderful; Barry Watson is sexy and Marisa Coughlan is absolutely terrific with some of the funniest scenes in the picture, one of them being a takeoff from “The Exorcist”.

Also features Jeffrey Tambor as Coach Wenchell, Michael McKean as Principal Potter; Molly Ringwald has a small part as an up and coming teacher and Lesley Ann Warren, a very able actress is unfortunately wasted in the very smallish part of Faye, Leigh Ann’s waitress Mom.

Lotta says “Teaching Mrs. Tingle” is a rarity, a teen comedy that adults can enjoy too.