Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Freedom Writers

posted by jmiller
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for violent content, some thematic material and language.
Profanity:Some strong language, racial slurs
Nudity/Sex:Some sexual references
Alcohol/Drugs:References to drugs, drinking, smoking
Violence/Scariness:Gang violence, references to Holocaust
Diversity Issues:A theme of the movie
Movie Release Date:2007
DVD Release Date:2007

Here is the formula for movies about idealistic young teachers who go into bad neighborhoods:


1. Idealistic teacher goes into bad neighborhood and is aghast at poor conditions and cynicism of the school administration.


2. Students treat teacher with contempt because he/she cannot possibly understand them.


3. Dedicated teacher demonstrates through persistence and unprecedented willingness to be honest that he/she deserves their respect.


4. Students begin to get interested in learning. But there are some setbacks, often involving a student’s home situation. The teacher’s personal life can also interfere.


5. There is often a montage and/or some kind of dancing sequence.


And this one clomps along, hitting all those notes, with double-Oscar winner Hillary Swank as Erin Gruwell, doing her best in a world that just doesn’t see how much these kids have to offer. Dr. McDreamy Patrick Dempsey plays her initially supportive husband, Scott Glenn her concerned father, and Imelda Staunton the harried principal. The students are played by an assortment of actors who all look closer to 30 than to high school age.


There are indeed some inspiring moments, as Gruwell has the students read Anne Frank’s diary. They learn that they are not the only ones in the world to be surrounded by random violence and tragic loss and begin to discover the healing power of telling their own stories. There is one great scene as Miep Gies (Pat Carroll in the film’s best performance), the woman who hid the Frank family, comes to the classroom to tell them that they are the real heroes. But too much of it fails to have the vivid detail necessary to bring it to life. Swank, who also produced, makes Gruwell too saintly and the students too generic for us to feel any real connection.

Parents should know that this film deals with students who are surrounded by and sometimes involved in gangs. There are references to violence and murders and some moderately graphic situations. Characters use some strong language, including racial epithets. There are references to drugs and sex. Characters drink. The movie’s strengths include its positive portrayal of racial tolerance, the importance of integrity and education, and the dedication and sacrifice of an idealistic teacher.


Families who see this movie should read the book Gruwell and her students wrote. They should also read about Miep Gies and Anne Frank. Every teenager should read her diary. They might like to try keeping a diary themselves.


Families who enjoy this film will also enjoy To Sir With Love, Up the Down Staircase, and Dangerous Minds. They will also enjoy the outstanding documentary OT: Our Town, about a Compton class that puts on a production of Thornton Wilder’s play “Our Town.”



  • Matthew Shaw

    This movie is such an inspirational movie to me as a 16 year old boy. We watched this movie in an English class when our teacher was absent and I was amazed by it. I’ve looked everywhere for this film, including WalMart, KMart, Target, and local video stores and no one seems to have it in stock. But, this was a great movie in my opinion. I told my parents about it and they we’re very interested in that. The movie really shows how people live their lives day to day in a dangerous area of town. Your recommendations reminded me of an article a read about a while back about a group of high school kids were going to do the play “To Kill A Mocking Bird” and the high school didn’t have many people of the African American race to play some of the characters. So, the drama teacher contacted school around the area and found one and two groups of students came together to pull of a great play. Anyway, I will be looking into the recommendations. But, I just wanted to give my two cents on this movie.
    Thanks,
    Matthew Shaw
    P.S. A++

Previous Posts

Tusk
You can make a good movie about slackers, for example "Slackers," from Richard Linklater and "Clerks" from Kevin Smith. But you can't make a good movie by a slacker, and Smith does not seem wi

posted 5:59:40pm Sep. 18, 2014 | read full post »

This is Where I Leave You
A toddler carries his little potty out in front of the house so he can try out his new-found skill in public. Twice. Plus another time when the contents of the potty are first displayed for the

posted 5:59:39pm Sep. 18, 2014 | read full post »

The Maze Runner
Yes, it's another dystopic YA trilogy (actually, there's a fourth volume, a prequel), and yes, only a teenager with fabulous cheekbones can save the day. But "The Maze Runner" is not a lesser repeat. It is a worthy addition to the genre, an absorbing drama with surprising turns and even more surpris

posted 5:59:23pm Sep. 18, 2014 | read full post »

The Art of John Alvin -- Designer of Iconic Movie Posters
Any fan of film history and design will love this magnificent new book devoted to the iconic movie posters and other artwork from John Alvin, assembled and written by his widow, Andrea Alv

posted 8:00:05am Sep. 18, 2014 | read full post »

Guest Post: Tara Sonenshine on "Calvary"
My deepest thanks to Tara Sonenshine for allowing me to publish her thoughtful comments on "Calvary," starring Brendan Gleeson as a troubled priest in a small Irish t

posted 11:19:17pm Sep. 17, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.