November 10, 1958
San Antonio, Texas, United States
Director, Screenwriter, Assistant editor, Production assistant
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A proficient director of light Hollywood entertainments aimed primarily at young male audiences, Herek began as a production assistant for Roger Corman's New World Pictures soon after graduating college. He worked for a time in the editing department and earned screen credit as assistant editor of "Androids" (1982). Herek made his feature directorial and screenwriting debut with an amusing and smartly crafted, if rather modest, low-budget "Gremlins" knockoff, "Critters" (1986). Herek fared better directing "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" (1989), a riotous sleeper that showcased Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter as two lovably brain-dead teens who travel through time to pass a major history test.Herek continued in a similarly outlandish, parodic vein with "Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead" (1991) before beginning an association with Disney Studios in 1992. Herek's next few features were not nearly as inventive or fun, but they scored big at the box office. His first Disney film, "The Mighty Ducks" (1992), was sort of a "Bad News Bears" on ice; modestly budgeted, this surprise hit spawned a pro hockey team. Herek continued purveying the adventures of boys at play with the umpteenth screen adaptation of "The Three Musketeers" (1993), a very loose but enjoyable (and for Herek, extremely lavish) Dumas romp that focused on the profiles and plumes of its young, male, swashbuckling stars (Charlie Sheen, Chris O'Donnell, Kiefer Sutherland and Oliver Platt). Given the tenor of Herek's work to this point, "Mr. Holland's Opus" (1995), a story of a dedicated music teacher (Richard Dreyfuss), marked a real change of pace for the director. Aiming for quieter, more sentimental effects--and an older audience--than Herek had previously sought, the film nonetheless aimed to be as craftsmanlike and as audience-pleasing as his earlier efforts, with notable boxoffice and critical success. Herek returned to form with his follow-up, a live-action remake of the Disney animated classic, "101 Dalmatians" (1996), starring Glenn Close as Cruella De Vil.