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 <email@example.com>
Although Regina Taylor plays the mother of Karen Malina White, in real-life she's only five years older. See more »
To avoid showing favoritism if Mr. Clark and Ms. Levias were able to find a more suitable home for Kaneesha and a job for her mother, they would have to do the same for all the families at East High. See more »
[at the first teachers' meeting]
... You are now my chief custodian, Reverend Slappy. You will scour this building clean. Any graffiti that goes up, comes off the next day. Is that clear? Detention students can help you. Let them scrub this place for a while, discover what a fine living you make doing this. And tear down those cages in the cafeteria! If we treat our students like animals, that's exactly how they'll behave!
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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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