The Emperor's Club Review
By Shawn McKenzie 11/27/2002
Admit it, when you first saw trailers for The Emperor’s Club, you were thinking to yourself (in the style of David Spade’s “Hollywood Minute”), “I liked this movie the first time I saw it…when it was called Dead Poet’s Society.” Yes, I thought the same thing too. After watching the movie, I am singing a slightly different tune, because while it does share some elements with Dead Poet’s Society, I think it has a very different direction.
Hundert (Kevin Kline) is a teacher who's tried to inspire his range of students
over the past 34 years to improve themselves and try to do great things with
their lives. He tended to use mainly important Roman and Greek historical
figures to make his points. He has been invited by one of his former students,
Sedgewick Bell (Joel Gretsch), to a reunion of the class in which he taught Bell
and his fellow former classmates. As Hundert gets ready for the weekend's
activities, he flashes back to when he first met
The reason why The Emperor’s Club is different from Dead Poet’s Society is because it attempts to focus on what the teacher learns and less what he teaches his students. It is an interesting examination on the choices we make in life and the motivation behind them.
The performances in this movie are great, and also different in style from Dead Poet’s Society. Kline plays his character as a stuffy teacher who learns to loosen up, whereas Robin Williams was the loosened up teacher who taught the stuffy kids. Everyone else’s performances were fine, though the plotline with Elizabeth went nowhere.
If you liked Dead Poet’s Society, you will like The Emperor’s Club, but realize that they are definitely not the same movie. It probably won’t appeal to everyone and it is a manipulative tearjerker, but it is a sweet little film with a interesting little twist in the last third of the movie that takes place in the present at the reunion. I don’t know if the Academy will warm to this movie, since it probably won’t do gangbuster business at the box office and it is slightly syrupy, but I have been surprised before. Maybe Oscar will want to join this Club.
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