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Lean on Me (1989)

 -  Action | Drama  -  3 March 1989 (USA)
7.4
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 12,229 users  
Reviews: 68 user | 10 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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Title: Lean on Me (1989)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Ms. Levias
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Alan North ...
...
...
...
...
Mr. Rosenberg
Sandra Reaves-Phillips ...
Mrs. Powers
Sloane Shelton ...
Mrs. Hamilton
Jermaine 'Huggy' Hopkins ...
...
Kaneesha Carter
...
Maria
...
Mrs. Santos
...
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

Plot Keywords:

teacher | high school | test | violence | gang | See more »

Taglines:

Eastside High never had a principal this tough...or one who cared this much about its students. See more »

Genres:

Action | Drama

Certificate:

PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

| |

Release Date:

3 March 1989 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Lean on Me  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Gross:

$31,906,454 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In one scene (while holding a baseball bat), Morgan Freeman says "They used to call me Crazy Joe. Well now they can call me Batman!" Years later Freeman would play the character of Lucius Fox, ally to Batman, in Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy. See more »

Goofs

Maria's hair between shots when Clark is somewhat berating Mrs. Powers over the way she taught the school song to the "song birds". See more »

Quotes

Clarence: Everybody, c'mon! Let's just settle down, give her a chance to talk, she might actually have something to say! So, everybody just chill, settle down, and let's listen to the old loudmouthed wench!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Mean Girls (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

LEAN ON ME
Performed by Thelma Houston and The Winans
Produced by Richard Perry
Courtesy of Qwest Records
Written by Bill Withers
See more »

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User Reviews

 
the saga of Crazy Joe, and a superb lead performance
5 August 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I wouldn't recommend Lean on Me anywhere near as much if it had another actor in the lead. Morgan Freeman owns the role of Principal Joe Clark so well that it might just be, over-the-top bits and all, one of his most commanding screen performances. It's such a rich (if not complex) part to play, as the one guy who comes in like a sheriff in the clueless small old-west town, that you need someone who can rule the screen even in those little moments when (and they're not many in this case) the actor doesn't have much to do alongside another actor. Freeman is so good and scene stealing and all those wonderful things we love him for that he makes one forget that the film he's in is only 'alright' at best and at worst is preachy and confused in its tone going between super tough/realistic and sentimental.

It's about a notorious school in Paterson, New Jersey, and how Joe Clark- who taught there in the 60s- is begged to be brought back to bring it back to some normalcy from the degradation of hardcore 80s madness (crack and gangs and other things infiltrating the high schoolers). While it is, as Ebert pointed out, kind of an unsympathetic character Clark is, I somehow can forgive the faults in the script for the acting (aside from Freeman there are other actors, like Robert Guillame and Michael beach and Beverly Todd, who can go up to bat with the likes of the star). It's the kind of feel-good-feel-bad 80s story that somehow stays past its time and place (albeit if you're from Jersey or especially Paterson there's some extra connection), and it's at least one other decent career note for Rocky director Avildsen.


4 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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