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Lean on Me
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Lean on Me More at IMDbPro »

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27 out of 35 people found the following review useful:

One of the most inspiring movies i've seen....

Author: movieluver22
16 March 2005

I recently rented this movie because I am a huge Morgan Freeman fan, and I was amazed at how inspiring it was. Freeman is truly amazing in this movie. He is perfect for this strong part of principal at Eastside High. His disciplined yet loving authority was fun to watch. Also in the cast, Mr Darnell(Michael Beach) and Dr. Frank Napier(Robert Guillaume) along with Joe Clark(Morgan Freeman) were probably the most dominant actors. There was also a great supporting cast as listed above. Mayor Don Bottman(Alan North) played the perfect power hungry politician for this movie.

I would recommend this movie to anyone out there. I truly believe it belongs in the top 250.

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29 out of 42 people found the following review useful:

Morgan Freeman at his best

Author: Jerry Smith from USA
27 May 2002

Morgan Freeman must be at his highest potential in this drama because he is excellent. He is excellent as Joe Clark, a principal at a high school who is trying to shape up his school and prepare them. He is wonderful as Joe Clark and he fills his character with so much heart that it is unbelieveable. He proved once again that he knows how to act and he should have won an oscar for his role. All of the actors and actresses are awesome in this. The direction and everything else is perfectly brought out.

Overall this movie has minor bits but everything else is perfect. Rating 10.5 out of 10. (Best Acting in a Movie)

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14 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Despite a shaky script, Morgan Freeman gives a terrific performance in an intense, challenging role

Author: ca_dale from Canada
24 July 2007

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.

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14 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

strong acting helps overcome the familiarity of the material

Author: Special-K88
12 March 2007

Freeman is perfectly cast as 'Crazy' Joe Clark, a radical, newly appointed principal at a deteriorating, gang-ridden school who gets through to his students with a tough, opinionated, no-nonsense approach to the pursuit of academic excellence. The odds are stacked against him as the education board threatens to shut down Eastside High School, but with his burning desire, devoted staff and administration, and some bright students who actually want to succeed, he rallies them for what will be the final chance to save the school. Based on a true story the premise is familiar and the script has its ups and downs, but it's meaningful and acted with strength and conviction, especially Freeman who is nothing short of superb. ***

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13 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

'Lean on Me' doesn't need any helping hand

Author: Jerry Jones from United States
3 January 2003


Starring: Morgan Freeman, Beverly Todd, and Robert Guillaume.

A man is assigned principle of a broken-down inner-city school. Nobody thinks he will last there. But, Joe isn't going to take that and will try his best to improve that school.

This movie should've gotten Academy Award nods. Freeman's performance alone was unbelieveable. It should've been nominated for Actor and Picture.

Overall the movie is a fantastic film and shows the true story of Joe Clark.

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

shape up or ship out

Author: IrockGswift ( from east orange, new jersey
7 February 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This have to be one Morgan Freeman's better movie ever. The way he played principal Joe Clark was excellent. A rebellious student body who's more interested in making drug sells and fashion statements than their studies. But when Joe Clark returns to school as principal he maintain control of the students and the staff members as well. First he cleaned up the school by getting rid of the drug dealers and those who didn't care about learning. Lectured the faculty staff by telling them the reason why the students are failing is because they fail to see if they're learning. Joe shows tough love to students who plan to stay there and further their education. Being that the school is placed in one of the worst neighborhoods in North Jersey, Joe's goal was to keep the students and the staff members focus on passing the basic skills test. Although he's demands were extreme and interfered with the law,he still accomplished what he wanted. That is to make the students feel good about themself by having self-respect,a sense of morality,and continue their education so they can have a future with various opportunities.

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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Great acting, so-so script

Author: Dasher111 from New York, NY
30 April 2001

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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9 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

A Wonderful and Inspiring Film!

Author: Rebecca Kotraba from Severn, Maryland
12 December 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Lean On Me" is film about taking risks, believing in change, and following your inner strength. The greatest compliment I ever received was that I was like the main character, Joe Clark. Clark (played outstandingly by Morgan Freeman) is appointed the principal of a "failing" inner city school. He comes in full-blazing to try and change the school. He focuses on raising the achievement tests score of the students. The character of Clark is not a man without fault. He is portrayed as a strong and energetic individual who sometimes hurts the feelings of others due to his lack of finesse when dealing with other adults.

He is a man who doesn't apologize for what he does, mistake or not.

This film shows the audience the plight of the inner city during the 1980's. Many of the issues then, still ring true in our school today.

The other characters in the film are also portrayed by fine dramatic performances. From the music teacher, to the Asst. Princpal characters , all of them show believability and a multifacted dynamic to each personailty.

The only flaw I see in this film is its failure to provide a true "ending" to the story. The ended is depicted as the students gaining passing grades for their state assessments. However, as the story is really about Joe Clark, it would have been nice to know what happened to him.

I recommend this film to everyone, as its message can scope many areas. Teachers and those in the education field, especially supervisors, might especially advantage from watching this film.

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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Good acting, mixed messages and kind of unbelievable

Author: nerfball_king
13 January 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I liked this movie when I was in high school, and thought that Morgan Freeman was effective as a principal who was trying to make the lives of the kids better.

However, as an adult, it seems that this movie was all about "Kids won't learn unless you threaten them. If a teacher is doing poorly, they should be fired immediately. It's my way or the highway." Seriously, if my job ever had a jag like "Mr. Clark" come in and run the place as a dictatorship, I'd be looking for a new job THE SAME DAY.

Also, there are some serious stretches of credulity here...

***SPOILER ALERT*** Mr. Clark is arrested for chaining the school doors shut, and is thrown in jail??? Not just any jail, but one that looks like its from a 1920s William Faulkner tale, with a cot and a sink and a washcloth. He wouldn't have just bonded out and gone home?

Also, Mr. Clark hires fascist security guards for the school? Doesn't he need to PAY them, and wouldn't this capital expenditure need to be approved before any checks are written?

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

entertaining hokum

Author: Michael Neumann from United States
30 November 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The true story of 'crazy' Joe Clark, the fiery principal of Eastside High School in Patterson, New Jersey, is transformed by the director of 'The Karate Kid' and the original 'Rocky' into a (no surprise here) strictly artificial, assembly line crowd pleaser. The film is notable mostly for Morgan Freeman's typically dynamic portrayal of a compelling lead character: the George S. Patton of academics, who made his reputation by stalking school halls with a bullhorn, a baseball bat, and a series of tough, inspirational sermons, speeches and lectures to students and faculty alike about responsibility and pride.

The deterioration of Eastside High from a model institution in 1967 to a mid-1980s netherworld of graffiti, drugs and indifference is introduced in a stunning visual dissolve, but the transition pales next to Clark's ascent from dedicated administrator to scholastic Messiah. Did the entire student body actually storm City Hall in protest of his arrest, and was he rescued by the 11th-hour arrival of the latest, improved test scores? It's unlikely, but let's face it: Hollywood never was much inclined to let the facts get in the way of a good story.

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