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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Several homages to the Sesame Workshop are referenced in the film - when Clark was seen as a history teacher in the 1967 scene he sported an Afro (similar to the character Easy Reader on The Electric Company where Morgan Freeman was part of the cast) and when he arrives at Eastside High on the first day on the job he wears a business suit similar to the one he had during The Electric Company's opening credits. Dr. Napier said to Clark in one scene that he is a Big Bird with Radar which was a double entendre (either as an airplane or the famous Sesame Street character with his pet teddy bear). Also, Lynne Thigpen would later join the cast of the PBS series Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? as the Chief. 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 »
[in a conference room at city hall]
Don't talk to me about saving those kids. The mayor wants to save his budget. And you wanna save your ass!
Dr. Frank Napier:
Well, so what? You want the truth?
Yeah, Frank. Let's have some truth.
Dr. Frank Napier:
The truth is that for all your talking, all your 'Crazy Joe' routine, what have you ever done? Nothing. You're nothing but an insignificant man. It's like you were never born. Your life hasn't made one bit of difference, and neither has mine. Wanna take that to the grave?
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Morgan Freeman's performance is the real reason to see this film. He's helped by a solid supporting cast, leading to some truly memorable scenes as principal Joe Clark (Freeman) battles teachers, parents, and administrators who are outraged by his controversial methods.
But this film deserved a grittier treatment than what it was given. The script is an awkward blend of inner-city drama with feel-good heroics. The subplot about the basic skills test should have been scrapped. First of all, it never happened in real life. But more importantly, it changed the entire tone of the film. Clark's story was about how he disciplined a school, not how he educated it. The softened approach leaves LEAN ON ME at odds with itself - it tries to be like STAND AND DELIVER, when it should have been like THE PRINCIPAL.
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