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Lean on Me (1989)

PG-13 | | Drama | 3 March 1989 (USA)
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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Cast

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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

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Release Date:

3 March 1989 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Apóyate en mi  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$10,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$31,906,454 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the auditorium scene where Morgan Freeman's character expels the students on stage, a young Michael Imperioli of The Sopranos (1999) can be seen behind him. See more »

Goofs

Mr Clark stops Sams in the hallway when he's about to duck into the bathroom to look for his friends. He begins to question Sams how he's doing in class and asks when he gets his report card. The principal of a school, especially one as hard-nosed as Mr Clark would know when report cards are issued. See more »

Quotes

Joe Clark: [at lunch, in the cafeteria, Clark has singled out Sams] ... I want all of you to take a good look at this slovenly, sloppy boy - as an example of how NOT to dress. If you look like THIS in the morning, find some other clothes to wear. Self-respect permeates every aspect of your existence. If you don't have respect for yourself, you're not gonna get it from anyone else.
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Soundtracks

YOU ARE THE ONE
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)
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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.


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