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Won't Back Down

By ERIK MCCLANAHAN

I’m often puzzled by movies like Won’t Back Down. Here’s a story “inspired by actual events” that plays like a two-hour, live-action equivalent of Rev. Lovejoy’s wife screaming, “Won’t somebody please think of the children?!” Or, to make another Simpsons comparison, this movie is basically Martin Prince. It means well, is full of energy, thinks it should be more popular than it is, and loves going to school, but in the end, it will never be cool. It’s simply a case of good message, not-so-good movie. And the confusing part is, who is this for? The story, about a Pittsburgh teacher (Viola Davis) and a student’s parent (Maggie Gyllenhaal) fighting to reform their children’s awful school, is admirable, but it preaches to the converted. It’s propaganda that makes for the least interesting of cinematic excursions, the kind that finds depth in predictable, syrupy sentiment and feigns complexity but never achieves it. There’s a great cast involved—including the wonderful character actors Oscar Isaac, Rosie Perez, Ving Rhames, Bill Nunn and Lance Reddick—but they have little to do in a movie that could’ve been so much better had the story actually started where it ends. 

 
  • Genres: Drama
  • Release Date: Friday, September 28, 2012
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English
  • MPAA Rating: PG [ Language, Thematic Elements ]
  • Critic's Score: C-
  • Starring: Maggie Gyllenhaal [Jamie Fitzpatrick], Viola Davis [Nona Alberts], Holly Hunter [Evelyn Riske], Oscar Isaac [Michael Perry], Rosie Perez [Breena Harper], Ving Rhames [Principal Thompson], Lance Reddick [Charles Alberts], Marianne Jean-Baptiste [Olivia Lopez], Bill Nunn [Principal Holland], Emily Lind [Malia Fitzpatrick], Dante Brown [Cody Alberts], Liza Colón-Zayas [Yvonne], Ned Eisenberg [Arthur Gould], Nancy Bach [Deborah], Keith Flippen [Ben], Robert Haley [Tim]
  • Directed by: Daniel Barnz [Director], Brin Hill [Screenwriter], Daniel Barnz [Screenwriter], Mark Johnson [Producer], Tom Williams [Executive Producer], Ron Schmidt [Executive Producer], Roman Osin [Cinematographer], Rusty Smith [Production Design], Kristina Boden [Film Editor], Luca Mosca [Costume Designer], Marcelo Zarvos [Original Music], Laura Rosenthal [Casting], Julie Madison [Casting], Nadia Simon [Casting], Gary Kosko [Art Director], Diana Stoughton [Set Decoration]
  • Watch the trailer
 

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  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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