In the mid-’90s, Hollywood issued a slew of straight-to-video erotic thrillers featuring former child actresses (Drew Barrymore, Alyssa Milano, Molly Ringwald, etc.) in sexualized roles. The marketing copy for these flicks usually included the phrase “as you’ve never seen her before.” Go figure that one of the antecedents of this trend actually features a male ex-child star—The Teacher presents ’60s TV kid Jay North, onetime star of Dennis the Menace, “as you’ve never seen him before.” Having not grown up on that particular show, watching North simulate sex onscreen didn’t warp any of my childhood memories, but chances are The Teacher has that effect on some unlucky viewers. Which, as it happens, may be the only effect the movie has on anyone, because The Teacher is Insipid, slow, tacky, and weird. North plays Sean, a recent high school graduate who joins his pal, Lou (Rudy Herrera Jr.), for a dubious adventure—they visit the warehouse hideaway in which Lou’s older brother, tweaked Vietnam vet Ralph (Anthony James), uses binoculars to watch a beautiful woman sunbathe nude every day. The woman is Diane (Angel Tompkins), who happens to be Ralph’s former schoolteacher. An accident at the warehouse leaves Lou dead, with Ralph preoccupied by the false notion that Sean was responsible. Any tension promised by this scenario, however, is quickly dissipated by the filmmakers’ ineptitude. For instance, even though Sean knows that Ralph is out to get him, Sean passes days aimlessly by swimming in pools and working on his van. That is, until Diane all but rapes the young man, commencing a scandalous romance. Very little of what happens onscreen makes sense, the elements never cohere, and the film culminates in an absurd bummer ending. (A disjointed music score spanning sludgy funk and twee balladry adds to the overall oddness.) As for the actors, North is terrible, James goes way over the top, and Tompkins mostly just undresses. So, while it’s somewhat possible to embrace The Teacher as a so-bad-it’s-good atrocity, the wiser path is simply to steer clear.
The Teacher: LAME