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Lean on Me (1989)

PG-13 | | Drama | 3 March 1989 (USA)
The dedicated but tyrannical Joe Clark is appointed the principal of a decaying inner-city school and he is determined to improve by any and all means.

Director:

John G. Avildsen
4 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Morgan Freeman ... Principal Joe Clark
Beverly Todd ... Ms. Levias
Robert Guillaume ... Dr. Frank Napier
Alan North ... Mayor Don Bottman
Lynne Thigpen ... Leonna Barrett
Robin Bartlett ... Mrs. Elliott
Michael Beach ... Mr. Darnell
Ethan Phillips ... Mr. Rosenberg
Sandra Reaves-Phillips ... Mrs. Powers
Sloane Shelton ... Mrs. Hamilton
Jermaine 'Huggy' Hopkins ... Thomas Sams
Karen Malina White ... Kaneesha Carter
Karina Arroyave ... Maria
Ivonne Coll ... Mrs. Santos
Regina Taylor ... Mrs. Carter
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Storyline

An arrogant and unorthodox teacher returns as principal to the idyllic high school from which he had earlier been fired to find it a den of drug abuse, gang violence, and urban despair. Eventually his successful but unorthodox methods lead to a clash with city officials that threatens to undo all his efforts. Based on a true story. Written by Keith Loh <loh@sfu.ca>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Eastside High was out of control...until Joe Clark took it back. See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish | Portuguese

Release Date:

3 March 1989 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Apóyate en mí See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$10,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$5,032,605, 5 March 1989

Gross USA:

$31,906,454

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$31,906,454
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The real-life Joe Clark resigned as principal of Eastside High School shortly after the film was released. Around the time the film debuted, he was suspended by the school board for one week, after scheduling an assembly in which dancers stripped down to their G-strings. Clark said he hadn't known about it in advance. Ironically, the man who suspended him was Dr. Frank Napier. After Clark left Eastside, he became an author, and motivational speaker. In 1995, he was hired to run a juvenile detention center in Newark, New Jersey, a position he held until he resigned in 2002. During his time there, he once again came under fire for his controversial methods. See more »

Goofs

When the superintendent is discussing who to hire as the principal with the Mayor, the Mayor asks "What was last year's score?". The Superintendent answers "38%". Later, when Joe leaves the stage after expelling the bad students, there is a chart that shows that last year's score was 30%. See more »

Quotes

Joe Clark: [to the Eastside students who have gathered outside City Hall to demonstrate on his behalf] Wow... Somebody tell me why I can't get this kind of turnout for study hall!
See more »

Connections

References Batman (1989) See more »

Soundtracks

Hit the Road, Jack
Written by Percy Mayfield
See more »

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User Reviews

YAY!! Someone get me a bat and a bullhorn!

Rocky and Karate Kid director, John Avildsen takes his stand-up-and-cheer style from the ring and the dojo to the halls of New Jersey's Eastside High School in this true story of the mercurial, and controversial, principal, Joe Clark. Morgan Freeman shines and has a strong supporting cast in this loud and manipulative, but nonetheless effective entry into the educator-hero genre. The story strains credibility and often goes over the top, but the fast pace and great Freeman performance allow this to still be an entertaining film.

Freeman's Joe Clark is recruited by Superintendent, Frank Napier (Robert Guillaume) for the seemingly impossible task of turning around the violent and out of control Eastside High School School and somehow motivating the staff and students to improve their results on the State Literacy Exam, or else see the school fall under state control. Clark uses a bullhorn, a baseball bat and a confrontational style with his staff and combines it with a tough, nurturing relationship with his students to try to bring this about, while battling alienated staff and angry parents, led by Ms. Levias (Lynne Thigpen) to try to bring about the desired changes.

Sure, this film is far-fetched and overblown and even has a couple scenes that approach unintentional humor, but it has enough strengths to compensate and make it worthwhile viewing for those who enjoy the true story school genre that Hollywood loves so much. Morgan Freeman is always a pleasure to watch and he is very strong here. So get ready to stand up and cheer!

(This review was first posted on realmoviereview.com)


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