A new comedic satire from TV director/producer Craig Zisk Weeds, The Larry Sanders Show) never really hits the mark like Election, for example. Even though the material rarely rises to the level of the titular character endowed by unassuming verve by Julianne Moore, it may be most coveted by those who've spent much time in the education system.
The English Teacher has that small-screen feel to it (as it now plays in the VOD format) and centers around Moore's 40ish spinster Linda Sinclair having more enjoyment in the cozy, sleepy hamlet of Kingston, Pa. (though shot in New York) in regaling Mark Twain or A Tale of Two Cities than in her personal life (as an early montage indicates).
An atonal artifice revolves around Sinclair's letting go as a pepper-spray meet-cute at an ATM lets her embrace a former student, Jason Sherwood (Michael Angarano of Sky High), and his controversial play The Chrysalis.
As the head of the drama department, Carl, Nathan Lane (The Producers) has his reliable theatrical, mugging streak intact for some of the intended gags. Linda will have her share of turmoil and tumult as she opens up an aggressive, emotional side that Moore tags with some viable vulnerability. Those more interested in the material will get into the resistance to get The Chrysalis manageable for a high school production when it comes to dealing with administrative staff like those acted by Jessica Hecht.
The relationship as played out between Moore and Angarano is watchable enough for a while until the storyline begins to leave them high and dry. Maybe not damaged as much is Greg Kinnear in backup as Jason's critical doctor father nicely subtly etching a typically rote stereotypical part. Lily Collins (Mirror Mirror) has a mean-spirited side as a leading lady in the play and a rival for Jason's affections but doesn't make much of an impression in a short, but insubstantial yarn that isn't nearly the equal of Moore's portrait of Sarah Palin in HBO's Game Change.
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