Timing is everything, with that said the release of Won’t Back Down couldn’t be better. The Chicago Teachers Union strike just ended and charter school amendments are on many local ballots this November. A movie hasn’t received this coincidentally beneficial timing since The China Syndrome in 1979.
It’s a fascinating movie because, having been a teacher, it’s a subject matter that’s close to my heart. I also have two children who will soon be entering the school system. The movie has sparked such pro union and anti union debate that the usual outlets are slamming or praising the movie. Here we’ll just talk about the movie and if it’s entertaining enough to merit your time. Of course, if I like it you’ll say I’m a RWNJ and if I don’t you’ll ask me to march with the union, so let’s proceed.
To see just how politicized this film has gotten just read the comments after the trailer on YouTube.
Won’t Back Down is inspired by true events and tells the story of a little girl who is struggling at her school because of bad teachers. Her mother (Maggie Gyllenhall) teams up with another teacher and mother (Viola Davis) to take control of the teaching curriculum via a series of paperwork and red tape.
There are some interesting side personal stories with Davis and Gyllenhall and the premise of the film certainly makes you think. It may make you wonder about a ‘parent trigger law’ and could it work in your area? It could make you jealous of charter schools or appreciative of the public school that you’re kids go to now.
One of the members of NKOTB said that ‘we were never as great as our fans thought, nor as bad as the critics wanted us to be’. The typical political sides will find aspects of the movie that they like and agree with and magnify that to whomever they can share it with. In reality, Won’t Back Down is a good movie, but not the groundbreaking school expose that people on the right want it to be. Likewise, people on the left will claim that it’s an anti union hit job that is out to fire teachers.
Neither story, in relation to the movie is correct. I looked for the follow up story on how the school is doing today, as it’s inspired by true events and I couldn’t find any updates. Even if the story is 100% fiction it certainly has moments of student inspiration, as well as lessons for the parents.
It’s not a perfect film, but if it gets more parents involved in their kid’s education then that’s a good thing. Waiting for Superman was a better documentary film and there are other fictional examples of better schools in crisis movies. Of course, I’m just a RWNJ for not hating Won’t Back Down, unless I praised it too much, then I’m a tenured teacher.
Did you see the film? What did you think?