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Film / Teaching Mrs. Tingle

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A 1999 Black Comedy film in which a poor girl's college stipend depends on her acing a history project in the class taught by the vile Mrs. Tingle (Helen Mirren).

Due to a friend's stupidity, the girl, Leigh Ann (Katie Holmes), is caught with a copy of the final exam, by Mrs. Tingle, who threatens to have her expelled. Leigh Ann, along with her two friends, goes to Mrs. Tingle's home to reason with her. But before long, the situation gets out of control.

Due to recent events before the movie came out, its title was changed from the original "Killing Mrs. Tingle" to the above. (In Sweden, though, the word "Killing" remained in the title.) Written and directed by Kevin Williamson, and understandably his only turn in the director's chair to date.

Despite its similar title and plot, it has no official connection to the Lois Duncan novel Killing Mr. Griffin.


  • Artistic License – History: The fake diary that the main character worked on for several months mentions witch burnings in Salem. Not a single witch was burned during the Salem Witch Trials, they were for the most part hanged with the only exception being Giles Corey, who was crushed to death with rocks. What makes it worse is that the audience is supposed to see Mrs. Tingle as a horrid person for only giving the main character a C for something she worked so hard on, but considering she made such a big and easily rectified mistake, the whole film falls apart. Really, a "C" grade was generous.
  • Bound and Gagged: The method of restraining Mrs. Tingle.
  • Chekhov's Skill: The book stopping a crossbow bolt, thereby stopping someone from being killed.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • The kids go way over the line to try to make Mrs. Tingle do what they want.
    • Mrs. Tingle's reason for hurting Leigh Ann is just as petty. She never left town when she had the chance and decided to take anyone with the same potential down with her.
    • When one considers Mrs. Tingle never believed Leigh Ann was a cheater in the first place and just used it as an excuse to fail her, it's even more petty.
  • It Works Better with Bullets: Mrs. Tingle confidently points out to Jo Lynn that she won't shoot her with the crossbow, when Jo Lynn retorts "No?", Tingle shows the bolt in her hand.
  • Karma Houdini: All the main characters responsible for holding Mrs. Tingle hostage, torturing, and blackmailing her get off scot-free despite the police coming to free Mrs. Tingle, and they continue on to graduation without a care in the world.
  • Sadist Teacher: Deserving her punishment or not, Mrs. Tingle still gives Leigh Ann a C based solely on her own personal bitterness, rather than because the report was wrong.
  • Sex for Solace: After Mrs. Tingle delivers a heart-breaking Hannibal Lecture to Leigh Ann about how much of a coward she is, the first thing Leigh Ann does is go to Luke and sexually jump him and tear off his clothes in an attempt to feel free. Luke completely describes the experience as a "one-time animal thing brought about by an intensive masochistic situation".
  • Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: Since the film was obviously marketed at the teeny-bopper crowd, the titular Mrs. Tingle is nowhere to be found on the poster.
  • Teens Are Monsters: Even sociopathic, it seems. They threaten Mrs. Tingle with a crossbow, knock her out, tie her up and hold her hostage, torment her, attempt to blackmail her with incriminating photos, actively plan to ruin their adulterous school coach's life simply to spite Mrs. Tingle, and mess with Mrs. Tingle's graded papers so Leigh Ann can become valedictorian.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Those kids had no idea Mrs. Tingle could fight so well.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Until Tingle catches them cheating!
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The romantic love triangle between the three teens is quickly dropped once Mrs. Tingle escapes and is never resolved.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: To 9 to 5
  • Wrote the Book: Mrs. Tingle, in the middle of a rant, claims that she wrote the book on Leigh Ann's situation. She also describes a similar scenario between the two and explains exactly why she failed Leigh Ann and her utter disgust at her personality, leaving Leigh Ann stunned because not one thing Mrs. Tingle said was incorrect about her.
    Leigh Ann: Why are you like this? Why are you so bitter and angry? Why do you want to destroy me?
    Mrs. Tingle: I don't want to destroy you. I want to teach you.
    Leigh Ann: Oh that is bullshit. You know you hide behind your degree but the reality is that you're jealous of every student you teach. You never got out of this town, did you? You went to high school here, now you teach here, and you're going to die here. And you resent anyone who has a future, anyone who's going to get out and have a life!
    Mrs. Tingle: No, I resent what you're going to do with that life. The selfish mindless pursuits of your generation will only bring us closer to destruction and I despise it.
    Leigh Ann: That is not good enough, Mrs. Tingle! If you're disillusioned with the youth of today, you have no one to blame but yourself.
    Mrs. Tingle: Always the Salem Witch. Completely innocent. Wrongly Accused.
    Leigh Ann: Ironic, isn't it?
    Mrs. Tingle: You still don't know what that word means. Metaphoric? Yes. Symbolic? Maybe. But there's no irony involved. Would you please look that word up?
    Leigh Ann: No, I am on to you, Mrs. Tingle. You're over and you're trying to take as many people as you can, but I am not scared of you!
    Mrs. Tingle: Who do you think you're fooling? You're so scared I can SMELL it. Your fear is the most predictable about you. You've lived your whole life in fear. Terrified of making a mistake. Scared to death you won't get that "A", that scholarship, that ticket out. Afraid you'll never escape your mother and her name tag or your father who won't return your calls. That's why you've shunned Luke and every other boy who's ever tried to lay his hands on you. You're afraid of getting that bad seed. Afraid of giving birth to a child you never wanted. A child you could only blame for your own wretched existence. Stuck in a small town, with a small life, destined to become the very thing you despise the most. I know all about it, Leigh Ann! I WROTE THE BOOK! I KNOW YOU.