“Teaching Mrs. Tingle” begins with Leigh Ann Watson, played by Katie Holmes (Miss Meadows), working on an important project for school. The grade Leigh Ann receives on her work could mean the difference between her becoming the valedictorian and possibly getting a scholarship, or finishing second to the brainy, proverbial teacher’s pet, Trudie Tucker (Liz Stauber). Leigh Ann is desperate to get out of what she considers her dead end town.
Making the decision that will, at least initially, shape Leigh Ann’s future is her history teacher Mrs. Tingle. The part of Mrs. Tingle is portrayed by Oscar winner Helen Mirren (The Queen). From first impressions, she comes across as someone who is hard to please and will stoop to low levels. For example, she wants the school to pay for materials for a summer class she will be teaching. She makes it a point to wish the school’s principal, a role acted by Oscar nominee Michael McKeon (A Mighty Wind), a happy birthday. The only thing is, it’s not his real birthday, it’s the birthday of when he started Alcoholics Anonymous, something which he thought no one in the school knew about.
Helping Leigh Ann navigate the last few days of high school are her best friend Jo Lynn (Marisa Coughlan) and Luke (Barry Watson), the guy she is smitten with. Leigh Ann especially needs their help, considering she got less than a stellar review from Mrs. Tingle during the oral presentation of her project. In addition, the most recent class ranking still has her coming in second to Trudie. Luke, however, thinks he has the answer to Leigh Ann’s problem.
When he meets Leigh Ann and Jo Lynn in the gym, where Leigh Ann is doing extra credit work, he presents them with a copy of Mrs. Tingle’s final exam. He made a photo copy of the exam and gives it to Leigh Ann, so she can ace the test, but Leigh Ann refuses. As she’s leaving the gym, he sticks it into her backpack. Of course, Mrs. Tingle happens to be in the gym, her reason for being there will be made known to the viewer later on in the film. She spots the paper in Leigh Ann’s backpack and takes it from her. In that moment Leigh Ann’s chances of becoming valedictorian are over. She knows she’s lucky if she doesn’t get expelled by the time Mrs. Tingle gets done with her.
Later that evening Leigh Ann, Jo Lynn, and Luke go to Mrs. Tingle’s house. They are there to try to convince her that the entire incident was a misunderstanding, which Leigh Ann had nothing to do with. All three try to persuade Mrs. Tingle and all three fail. One thing leads to another and before she knows it, Mrs. Tingle has been knocked unconscious. She is taken to her upstairs bedroom where she is held captive, bound and at times gagged. How far will the three students go in order to get Mrs. Tingle to change her mind?
“Teaching Mrs. Tingle” was written and directed by Kevin Williamson (Scream). The film premiered on August 11, 1999. Parts comedy and thriller it has a runtime of 96 minutes. Additional cast members include, but are not limited to, Golden Globe winner Jeffrey Tambor (Transparent), Golden Globe nominee Molly Ringwald (Tempest), and Vivica A. Fox (Kill Bill Vol 1). Originally, Joe Dante (Gremlins) was going to direct the film. Furthermore, five time Emmy winner Matt Stone and Oscar nominee and Emmy winner Trey Parker, the creators of “South Park” were hired to rewrite the script, but it didn’t happen. Golden Globe and Emmy winner Gillian Anderson (The X-Files) was originally offered the role of Mrs. Tingle.
Overall, “Teaching Mrs. Tingle” is a decent film, that offers a few thrills and a couple of laughs. I would recommend it for fans of the cast, especially Holmes and Mirren.