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Won't Back Down (2012)

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Two determined mothers­, one a teacher, look to transform their children's failing inner city school. Facing a powerful and entrenched bureaucracy, they risk everything to make a difference in the education and future of their children.

Director:

Daniel Barnz
1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Maggie Gyllenhaal ... Jamie Fitzpatrick
Viola Davis ... Nona Alberts
Oscar Isaac ... Michael Perry
Holly Hunter ... Evelyn Riske
Rosie Perez ... Breena Harper
Emily Alyn Lind ... Malia Fitzpatrick
Dante Brown ... Cody Alberts
Lance Reddick ... Charles Alberts
Ving Rhames ... Principal Thompson
Bill Nunn ... Principal Holland
Ned Eisenberg ... Arthur Gould
Marianne Jean-Baptiste ... Olivia Lopez
Liza Colón-Zayas ... Yvonne
Nancy Bach Nancy Bach ... Deborah
Keith Flippen ... Ben
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Storyline

Two determined mothers with children who are failing in an inner city school in Pittsburgh join forces to take back the school, and turn it into a place of learning. But before they can change the school for the better, they must first battle the parents, the school board, and the teachers union. Because this is for their children, they won't back down from this enormous challenge. Written by Douglas Young (the-movie-guy)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

If you can't beat the system... change it

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for thematic elements and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

28 September 2012 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Learning to Fly See more »

Filming Locations:

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$2,603,370, 30 September 2012

Gross USA:

$5,310,554

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$5,378,228
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Datasat | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color (ACES)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Oscar Isaac'a character is very inspired by music, notably Johnny Cash. He would later go on to play a musician in Inside Llewyn Davis. See more »

Quotes

Jamie Fitzpatrick: I've just never been able to talk smart people into doing things before.
See more »

Connections

References The Stepford Wives (1975) See more »

Soundtracks

Spotlight (New Regrets)
Written and Performed by Patrick Stump
Courtesy of Island Def Jam Music Group
Under License from Universal Music Enterprises
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Look Beyond the Controversy
1 October 2012 | by truiz1See all my reviews

For as long as there have been schools, there have been good teachers and bad teachers, involved parents and uninterested parents, naturally gifted students and those students who struggle. Perhaps there is more good than bad today, then again perhaps not. It can't be ignored, though, that there are schools, and even entire areas, where students are failing at an alarming rate. Teachers alone can't fix this. Parents alone can't fix this. Even most students alone, barring the most motivated and gifted among us, can't fix this. It takes good teachers, involved parents, and students who have made a commitment to excel, to fix this problem. That's what we get in Won't Back Down.

You might hate the supposedly anti-union message, or turn up your nose at the idea that a child is scarred for life by one bad teacher, but neither of these are reasons to disregard this movie. First of all, while the movie does spotlight the downside of teacher's unions, there is plenty of union-love as well. And secondly, one bad teacher certainly can make the difference between a child who loves school and a child who dreads it, even if it's only for one year. And one bad year of school, especially elementary school where every learning experience is a building block for the later years, can be devastating.

I am highly sensitive to movies with a heavy-handed political agenda. I honestly didn't feel that here. I didn't take this movie as a guide to removing unions from schools. What I witnessed was the idea that if parents, teachers and students band together to make their school a better place, they can hope for a brighter future. Student by student, school by school, we can improve education in America. That people want to fight over whether teachers should be protected rather than whether students should be given an opportunity to excel, well that's really the crux of the problem, now, isn't it?

Beyond the controversial topics addressed, I found this film to be very satisfying. The plot was well-developed, Viola Davis and Maggie G played well off of each other, the children were very good in their roles, and the pacing was steady. It's always inspirational to see a group of people with very little in common come together for the greater good, and if nothing else you will definitely get that here. How can we not enjoy watching parents engaged in the school system and rallying to secure the future of their children? Don't watch this to pick apart (or champion) charter schools, watch this to remember just who education is supposed to benefit. Watch this and remember that good teachers could use a little encouragement, bad teachers should be called out, the system needs to be challenged every now and then, and children will respond to their environment, whether it's positive or negative, in ways that will surprise and sometimes amaze you.


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