A teacher belatedly discovers just how important his job really is in this emotional drama. Glenn Holland (Richard Dreyfuss) is a man with a deep love of music and a desire to write at least one piece of lasting significance. However, playing piano in cocktail lounges while he works on his own compositions doesn't pay the bills, so in 1965 he reluctantly accepts a job as a high school music teacher. Over the next 30 years, Holland is able to teach a great deal about both music and life to thousands of kids who pass through the various classes he leads and school bands he directs; however, he finds it easier to reach his students than his son Cole (played, as he grows older, by Nicholas John Renner, Joseph Anderson, and Anthony Natale), who is deaf, which drives a wedge between Glenn and his wife Iris (Glenne Headly). Richard Dreyfuss earned an Academy Award nomination as Best Actor for Mr. Holland's Opus; the cast also includes Olympia Dukakis, William H. Macy, and Jay Thomas.
~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide