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?