Walden Media, Gran Via Productions,

Maggie Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Holly Hunter, Oscar Isaac, Rosie Perez, Ving Rhames, Lance Reddick, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Bill Nunn, Emily Alyn Lind

Jamie Fitzpatrick (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is a single Mom struggling with two jobs to make a better life for her 3rd grade daughter. But their inner city school is failing. Though there are some good teachers, Jamie has tried for months to get her daughter transferred to a different room since the teacher is really mean, and she can’t read. Meanwhile, Nona Alberts (Viola Davis) is a really good teacher, but worries about her own son who is not progressing properly. Jamie tries to enter her daughter in the lottery to go to the school she wants for her daughter, but they have 40 spots and over 400 applicants. So Jamie and Nona band together to fight the parents, the teachers, the administration, the union, and the school board to petition the board to allow them to take over the school and to allow the parents to run it. All in all it’s a long uphill battle, but the parents want what is best for their kids no matter how hard the fight.

This film is really an anti-union/anti-establishment film, but it’s trying to show some of the problems with the school district we have today. Unions appear more worried about keeping up their enrollment to get enough money in the pot to buy the government off to protect them, and the teachers who are awful, are protected by tenure. Tenure was a good thing back in the days where the teachers could be mass fired due to a change in the political environment in a town, but it’s gotten so bad, that unless you can convict a teacher of a serious crime, they can never be fired no matter how bad they perform. And when a whole school fails, year after year, what are parents to do? They don’t have the money to send their kids to private schools, and the public schools that are better are so overcrowded that it’s impossible to get in.

But back to the movie. It’s a definitely one sided view, so the good teachers and good parents are all good, and the union members, bad teachers, school board and union leaders are pure evil. I’m sure it’s not like this in real life, but it’s drama. So expect to see a one sided story, much like many similar films like The China Syndrome, The Help, Erin Brockovich, and numerous others where it’s the little man against the evil establishment, but what else would you expect. This is a drama, and not a documentary, and though it’s based on some factual stuff, most of the movie is fiction. So it’s a drama, well acted, and not to badly written. It’s an interesting film, and not too bad to watch, but it’s not going to get a glowing review because it just doesn’t take that additional giant step to greatness. It’s just a good film, and definitely worth watching, but with lowered expectations for content.

EdG – EdsReview Dot Com – A Movie Review Blog



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