Based on actual events, Won’t Back Down, is a story of a mother and a teacher who band together a neighborhood to help save their failing school. They must convince not only the parents but the teachers that taking over the school from the union and current administration is the best course of action for their children.
Normally I would prefer to keep politics out of a movie review, but this is a movie that has politics embedded in it’s core. The unfortunate thing is that the movie can’t seem to choose what those particular politics are. Except in the outlook on the union, which it seems to take the ‘unions are detrimental to change and advancement’ stance. One of the confusing aspects of this stance is that it is stated in the movie that the unions will not allow teachers to stay after school in order to help students. Now, perhaps I need to do more research but I don’t know many teachers that walk out of the school everyday at three in the afternoon. It is true that normal school hours are over but this is not to say that the teacher goes home. Now, like I said, I didn’t do a lot of research on that particular issue but I just felt that it was an excuse written into the movie in order to make sure that the teachers were ‘bound’ by the union to be sub-par.
Now, this movie is trying to show what can happen if parents get involved in schools and the improvements that can be made, even in failing schools. This is wonderful but what about discussing how none of these parents were involved before these big events took place? It is a true statement that parents involved in education can make a big difference; but this doesn’t have to only be on a huge overhaul level. What about volunteering a bit of time to help watch the children at lunch or recess in order to give the teacher some extra planning or grading time (which most of the time is done on their personal time). Or coming in the classroom to participate in small groups? There are many ways in which parents can get involved within the classroom and help out the educational system. Hopefully, this movie will inspire people to become more involved with their children’s education. As an educator myself, I know how important parent involvement is, remember the parents are the first and most important teachers!
Won’t Back Down doesn’t paint all teachers as bad; in fact most of them are put in a light of being good teachers who have become complacent and jaded due to so many factors that blind them to their real objective. And this is true in many cases; there is always a bit of truth in all viewpoints and statements. I have talked to many teachers who feel that they are bogged down with all the non-child related aspects of teaching that they can at times lose sight of what is important. We could argue all day long about the different sides of education and teachers’ roles, let’s not to that too much here.
As a movie, Won’t Back Down is pretty standard, nothing about it stands out but there are definitely times when it pulls at your heartstrings. And it is true; a movie that can reach you emotionally is at least decent. The problems lie in the fact that there are many times when characters and situations are not fully fleshed out, and it is a two hour movie! The art direction of the movie gives away more about the political feelings than anything. At the beginning of the movie, everything is dark and depressing including the colors of the characters clothing. By the end the color pallet is bright, vibrant and full of beauty. The problem is that even the characters who are supposed to bring light to the movie are also dressed in drab, depressing colors. This doesn’t show a separation between the characters are supposed to be rooting for and the ones who are the antaganistic ones.
Included in the Twentieth Fox Home Entertainment Blu-ray and UltraViolet release are several special features. Two featurettes are “The Importance of Teachers” and “A Tribute to Teachers”. There are also deleted scenes with director commentary and an audio commentary track by director Daniel Barnz.