Published Feb 01, 2000Leigh Ann (Katie Holmes), the smartest girl in high school, and two friends push their way into their teacher Mrs. Tingle's house, begging Mrs. Tingle (Helen Mirren) to withdraw a damaging accusation of cheating against Leigh Ann. When the crossbow with which they're threatening their teacher accidentally discharges, grazing Mrs. Tingle's forehead, the teens haul her up to her bedroom and tie her to the bed. I wish I had more than a plot summary to offer, but Teaching Mrs. Tingle, written and directed by Kevin Williamson, almost resists being spoken, written, or even thought about - it's that bad. There's simply no convincing reason for the action in the movie to happen. Leigh Ann's confederate Jo Lynn (Marisa Coughlan) does an impersonation of the possessed Regan in The Exorcist. She's alone with Mrs. Tingle, and it's easy to get the impression that Mirren slips out of character - that she directs her scorn and derision not at Jo Lynn, but at Williamson, standing somewhere just off camera, for writing and filming the scene, towards which nothing in the narrative leads. Teaching Mrs. Tingle appeals to the narcissism of the audience, which Williamson greatly overestimates; he hollows out his characters, posing them like dolls in a series of pathetic melodramas, rather than directing them in a coherent piece of work.