Critic Reviews



Based on 34 critic reviews provided by
Won't Back Down says that whatever your feelings about the subject, lack of change cannot be the answer to our public-education crisis. Trying to cram an informational exposé and a vintage inspirational awards-bait weeper into one movie, Won't Back Down is awkward at times, yet it's also passionate in a surprisingly smart way. It makes a genuine drama out of impossible issues.
For sure, this is a cause movie - sometimes it even feels that way - in favor of charter schools and against the teachers unions. Still, Won't Back Down is reasonably fair in its approach.
I haven't seen a timelier or more important film this year, and the film's passion for school choice could hardly be more warranted. Along with documentaries such as "The Lottery" and "Waiting for 'Superman,' " the film comes with a background sound of the ice of inertia cracking.
It's a film that deserves to be seen, savored, debated and given serious attention.
While there are moments where this drama, about a pair of mothers hellbent on improving their children's education, is compelling and deeply moving, the film gets mired in heavy-handed cliches.
Barnz tries, at least a bit, to acknowledge the heroic and historic legacy of the union movement and its rightful place in the contemporary labor landscape. But much of the blame for the sorry state of Adams Elementary, and the school system at large, is placed at the union's feet.
One of its strengths is a knowledge of when to unfurl information, particularly for the strongest emotional effect.
The movie addresses timely issues but eschews shading in favor of blunt black and white. It's old-school Lifetime fodder dressed up in Hollywood trappings.
I am neither anti-charter schools nor anti-union. I am, however, firmly against heavy-handed lectures disguised as art.
The film is all for teaching as a calling. What it doesn't do is offer it the dignity of also being a job.
For all its strenuous feints at fair play, though, Won't Back Down is something less honorable - a propaganda piece with blame on its mind.

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