When movies go to class


Teri Polo, who did a stint on

West Wing a couple of years back but is best known on the big screen

for comedy, love interest, and comedic love interest (e.g., Meet the

), is finally set to star in a movie that will not be a comedy.

At least not intentionally. According to The Hollywood


in the indie film The Beacon, Polo’s character, Sally Helppie,

and her husband move into an old apartment building while mourning the

death of their young son. Sally begins seeing the spirit of another

dead boy, and with the help of her college professor husband and his

college professor friend, they try to save him.

Save him from what undead dilemma,

I know not, and I’m really not sure I care. If I wasn’t over the

“I see dead people” phenomenon after all of the ghastly copycats

riding the ghostly coattails of The Sixth Sense, trying to watch

a season of The Ghost Whisperer did me in. (The things

I do to catch Aisha Tyler.)

Anyway, the movie’s really not my point.

Musing about the film, Cinematical.com’s

Monika Bartyzel
pointed out the almost magical abilities

of college professors in film to do everything from exorcising spirits

to helping people figure out that the little voice in their head narrating

their day might actually

be Emma Thompson

and not a condition requiring heavy medication. This is a movie

cliché I could have

mentioned last week.

As in the hallowed halls of academia

itself, the guys usually bag the big roles, whether it’s an action flick

like Indiana Jones (where knowledge is power) or a

Dead Poets Society
, one of those inspirational teacher movies that

are a genre unto themselves. But occasionally we get a woman professor.

In Mona Lisa Smile, a free-thinking arts teacher tries to change

her students and society. Julia Roberts fared a little

better than Robin Williams, though. Lower death toll.

I’d say The L Word‘s Dean Porter

and Jodi Lerner qualify in the category of small screen unrealistic

(despite my undergraduate fantasies) representations of university professionals.

Their magical abilities? Fighting the conservative campus

minority and shaping young minds through artistic expression and at

times rather, er, inappropriate other means.

And one I blame for the hours I spent

digging plastic dinosaur bones out of my sandbox as a kid. Looking

at the poster, I’d say the magic here wasn’t in the touching encounter

between woman and dinosaur, but in the glory of the craptastic dinosaur


So what am I missing? Who are

your favorite fictional profs?

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