Oscar nominees Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis lead a stellar cast in what was supposed to have been an empowering drama inspired by actual events, but was ultimately just not very good, saved by its strong cast.
I found it quite dull and uninteresting, despite all the controversy the subject matter has attracted from teachers unions.
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.
It's what we'd call a "message movie" – the message delivered heavy-handedly, simplistically addressing what I think is a far more complex, layered issue than the film suggests; which is too bad, because the talent the project attracted (Viola Davis, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Holly Hunter, Lance Reddick, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Bill Nunn and others) is incredibly impressive. A strong ensemble cast of actors that I'd love to see in something else together; they all feel wasted here, but do what they can with the material given, in what really should be a TV movie of the week, better suited for the Hallmark Channel.
But I'm sure some of you disagree.
If you didn't see it in theaters, you'll get your opportunity to do so when it hits DVD and Blu-ray, January 15, 2013, with the following special features on both formats:
● Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by Director Daniel Barnz
● A Feature Tribute to Teachers
● A Feature on The Importance of Education
● Audio Commentary with Director Daniel Barnz
● Ultraviolet Copy