MOVIEmeter
Top 5000
Up 112 this week

Lean on Me (1989)

PG-13  |   |  Drama  |  3 March 1989 (USA)
7.4
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.4/10 from 13,660 users  
Reviews: 76 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.

Director:

0Check in
0Share...

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Instant Video

ON DISC

10 Best Back-to-School TV Shows

Dust off your varsity jacket and get excited for fall with our list of the 10 best back-to-school TV shows.

Visit our Family Entertainment Guide

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 47 titles
created 01 May 2011
 
a list of 48 titles
created 25 Jan 2013
 
a list of 44 titles
created 03 Jul 2013
 
a list of 46 titles
created 14 Jun 2014
 
a list of 36 titles
created 7 months ago
 

Related Items

Search for "Lean on Me" on Amazon.com

Connect with IMDb


Share this Rating

Title: Lean on Me (1989)

Lean on Me (1989) on IMDb 7.4/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of Lean on Me.

User Polls

4 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

The story of Jaime Escalante, a high school teacher who successfully inspired his dropout prone students to learn calculus.

Director: Ramón Menéndez
Stars: Edward James Olmos, Estelle Harris, Mark Phelan
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

The Power of One is an intriguing story of a young English boy named Peekay and his passion for changing the world. Growing up he suffered as the only English boy in an Afrikaans school. ... See full summary »

Director: John G. Avildsen
Stars: Stephen Dorff, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Morgan Freeman
Drama | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  

An aging out of shape reporter falls for a pretty but seriously ill ballerina.

Director: John G. Avildsen
Stars: Paul Sorvino, Anne Ditchburn, Nicolas Coster
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A hustling drug addict checks himself into rehab to escape trouble with the law, and realizes that it's exactly what he needs.

Director: Glenn Gordon Caron
Stars: Michael Keaton, Kathy Baker, Morgan Freeman
Comedy | Crime | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

Small time crooksters Nick and Charlie have an elaborate plan to rob an exclusive jewelers store. Using a variety of disguises and posing as rich old men and women they begin the set-up, ... See full summary »

Director: John G. Avildsen
Stars: Peter Falk, Charles Durning, Claude Lelouch
Street Smart (1987)
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

A New York journalist lies when his fake story about a pimp describes a real pimp up for murder.

Director: Jerry Schatzberg
Stars: Christopher Reeve, Kathy Baker, Mimi Rogers
Foreplay (1975)
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.3/10 X  

Three vignettes about a man who buys a weird doll, a writer who is visited by his muse and a kidnapper with very odd demands who holds a VIP.

Directors: John G. Avildsen, Bruce Malmuth, and 2 more credits »
Stars: Irwin Corey, Pat Paulsen, Deborah Loomis
Marie (1985)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A woman is determined to reveal the truth about an insidious political corruption. In doing so she risks her safety, career and reputation but will not stop asking questions until the truth is known.

Director: Roger Donaldson
Stars: Sissy Spacek, Jeff Daniels, Keith Szarabajka
Teachers (1984)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

A well meaning but burned-out high school teacher tries to maintain order against the backdrop of a pending lawsuit against his school district when it comes to light they gave a diploma to an illiterate student.

Director: Arthur Hiller
Stars: Nick Nolte, JoBeth Williams, Judd Hirsch
Death of a Prophet (TV Movie 1981)
Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.2/10 X  

After breaking ties with the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X became a man marked for death...and it was just a matter of time before his enemies closed in. Despite death threats and intimidation... See full summary »

Director: Woodie King Jr.
Stars: Morgan Freeman, Yolanda King, Mansoor Najee-ullah
Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

A businessman's professional struggles begin to conflict with his personal life over the course of two days.

Director: John G. Avildsen
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A bored housewife starts hanging out in Greenwich VIllage, and gets involved with pot-smoking hippies and an Italian filmmaker.

Director: John G. Avildsen
Stars: Sharon Kent, Richard Michaels, Luigi Mastroianni
Edit

Cast

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

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

Taglines:

They called him crazy for padlocking the doors, and for changing all the rules. But Joe Clark was crazy about one thing only: the students who loved him. See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

| |

Release Date:

3 March 1989 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Apóyate en mi  »

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  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

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

Dr. Frank Napier: [to Joe] It's like you're a Big Bird with radar. And I'm tired of getting hit!
See more »

Connections

Spoofed in High School High (1996) See more »

Soundtracks

RAP SUMMARY (LEAN ON ME)
Performed & Written by Big Daddy Kane
Produced by Marley Marl
Courtesy of Cold Chillin' Records and Video, Inc.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Despite a shaky script, Morgan Freeman gives a terrific performance in an intense, challenging role
24 July 2007 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

Lean on Me is based around the experiences of Joe Clark (Morgan Freeman), who becomes the principal of a destitute New Jersey high school plagued with violence, drugs, and abysmal academic performance. Clark is given the daunting task of bringing student's test scores up to the minimum acceptable level within one school year or the school will be taken over by the state.

Clark is fiercely strict and demanding towards both his students and teachers. This makes him the target of countless parents, board members, civil servants, and other teachers determined to bring him and his radical new style down. Despite outside resistance Clark becomes a pillar of hope for numerous students inspired by his harsh but ultimately uplifting demands for disciple, self betterment, and loyalty to their school and educational achievement.

What sets Lean on Me apart from numerous other sentimental inspirational flicks is the unconventional style of Clark and Morgan Freeman's masterful portrayal of him. Yes this is the drill sergeant of miracle workers if ever there was one. From tone to mannerisms Joe Clark is given a distinctive ambiance, Morgan Freemen IS the dominating force behind this entire film.

And this is where the film stumbles somewhat. None of the supporting characters are given enough development to really set them apart as individuals. The closest we get is with a bright young girl trying her best to succeed at school despite numerous domestic problems at home. She is won over by Clark almost immediately coming to view him as a mentor/father figure. The problem is that her subplot like the others becomes neglected in the latter half of the film and is never given enough meaningful resolution to make the final scenes believable. Its like going from point A to point C while ignoring B.

I also question the wisdom in using an imaginary plot point (the supposed school take over) and exaggerating the level of the student's academic improvement. It cheapens the genuine accomplishments of the school and clashes with the hard-edged momentum of Joe Clark. The story is worthy in of itself and didn't benefit from being exaggerated for dramatics.

Lean on Me clearly could have been much more than what it is. But faults aside I would still highly recommend it to see Freeman's Oscar worthy performance.


14 of 14 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
How Could Joe Clark Expel 300 Students? leighabc123
Clark was too much of a sour a-hole oscarflix
Joe Clarke's previous school ben-1047
things a principal can't do gfnoyes
Firing of Mrs. Elliott Staceyjj3
Morgan Freeman: Great actor jwpostman
Discuss Lean on Me (1989) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?