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Lean on Me (1989)

PG-13  |   |  Drama  |  3 March 1989 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 13,881 users  
Reviews: 78 user | 12 critic

The dedicated but tyrannical Joe Clark is appointed the principal of a decaying inner-city school that he is determined to improve.


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3 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Alan North ...
Sandra Reaves-Phillips ...
Sloane Shelton ...
Jermaine 'Huggy' Hopkins ...
Kaneesha Carter
Mrs. Santos
Mrs. Carter


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


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




PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





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Release Date:

3 March 1989 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Apóyate en mi  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$31,906,454 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Real-life students and teachers from Eastside High appeared as extras in this film. See more »


The practice exam booklet reads "New Jersey Minimun Basic Skills Tests"...probably the last place the school board (or the film's producers) would want a spelling error. See more »


Joe Clark: [after asking teachers to put up their hands] Because you are failing to educate them, this is the posture that many of our students will wind up in. Only they'll be staring down the barrel of a gun!
See more »


Featured in The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Episode #20.174 (2012) See more »


Performed by T.K.A. (as TKA)
Produced by Tony Moran and Joey Gardner
Courtesy of Tommy Boy Records
Written by Keath Lowry (as K. Lowery) and David Gaskins (as D. Gaskins)
See more »

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User Reviews

Morgan Freeman at his best
27 May 2002 | by (USA) – See all my reviews

Morgan Freeman must be at his highest potential in this drama because he is excellent. He is excellent as Joe Clark, a principal at a high school who is trying to shape up his school and prepare them. He is wonderful as Joe Clark and he fills his character with so much heart that it is unbelieveable. He proved once again that he knows how to act and he should have won an oscar for his role. All of the actors and actresses are awesome in this. The direction and everything else is perfectly brought out.

Overall this movie has minor bits but everything else is perfect. Rating 10.5 out of 10. (Best Acting in a Movie)

29 of 41 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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