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Won't Back Down (2012)

PG  |   |  Drama  |  28 September 2012 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 4,814 users   Metascore: 42/100
Reviews: 36 user | 100 critic | 34 from

Two determined mothers­, one a teacher, look to transform their children's failing inner city school. Facing a powerful and entrenched bureaucracy, they risk everything to make a difference in the education and future of their children.


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Evelyn Riske
Breena Harper
Cody Alberts
Charles Alberts
Principal Thompson
Principal Holland
Arthur Gould
Olivia Lopez
Nancy Bach ...
Keith Flippen ...


Two determined mothers with children who are failing in an inner city school in Pittsburgh join forces to take back the school, and turn it into a place of learning. But before they can change the school for the better, they must first battle the parents, the school board, and the teachers union. Because this is for their children, they won't back down from this enormous challenge. Written by Douglas Young (the-movie-guy)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


If you can't beat the system... change it



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for thematic elements and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

28 September 2012 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Learning to Fly  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$2,603,370 (USA) (28 September 2012)


$5,308,553 (USA) (16 November 2012)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

| |



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The film cast includes one Oscar winner: Holly Hunter; and four Oscar nominees: Viola Davis, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Rosie Perez. See more »


Michael Perry: When I drink, I ask nosey questions.
Jamie Fitzpatrick: When I drink, I marry losers.
See more »


References Walk the Line (2005) See more »


I Won't Back Down
Written by Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne
Performed by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
Courtesy of Geffen Records
Under License from Universal Music Enterprises
See more »

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User Reviews

Film with a heart made for those who have one
7 October 2012 | by (Burbank, CA, United States) – See all my reviews

Reading some of the reviews here and elsewhere I was getting a feeling some people simply saw another film under the same title for I don't have another plausible explanation for the shortsightedness and narrow-mindedness of some.

The film is stunning in its emotional impact, immaculately written and stupendously directed, with incredible one-shots, meticulously motivated hand-helds, color nuances (overlooked by many) and above all breathtakingly thorough and subtle work with the cast. In the world of "block-and-shoots" and gimmicky self-indulgent "me-me-me's" this rare old school picture stands out and certainly makes many uncomfortable for it appeals to something buried under layers of tweets, pretense, status, rat races and such - the human heart. Human connection. This is the most life-affirming American film I have seen in over a decade without it getting too preachy, cheesy or boring. No chemistry between Maggie and Viola? That comment is beyond me. They are so different, they are so raw and painfully believable on their own, that their union gains power via this deliberate diversity of their characters. There is not a single face in a single frame that is not totally "there", the committed "non-background" nature of supporting cast and extras makes an incredibly detailed background, full of nuance, ever breathing and alive. As is every shot of the film.

The last comment I will afford regards the union matter. First if all - if someone really believes this movie is about unions (or against them)

  • I have nothing to tell them. They will be as deaf to my voice as they

are to the writers'/director's which tells a story of mother's love, standing up for your rights, having hope and faith and moving mountains if necessary - if the loved one needs that. The school is just a background for all that to unfold, a setting, a subplot to me. Performances are Oscar-worthy, I could go on for pages and scene by scene describe the beauty and power of them (alas, only 1000 characters here). And one more word on the union issue - what makes this film so impactive and real is how valid both points are and how the film's creators made sure that nothing about that is black and white and took time to support and justify both.

So, if you are not ashamed to cry in a theater, if you are ready to embark on an emotional journey, if you are not afraid to think and doubt - go see this brilliant work of art.

21 of 33 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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