7.4/10
16,341
81 user 15 critic

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 and he is determined to improve by any and all means.

Director:

John G. Avildsen
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From $3.99 (HD) on Prime Video

ON DISC
3 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Morgan Freeman ... Principal Joe Clark
Beverly Todd ... Ms. Levias
Robert Guillaume ... Dr. Frank Napier
Alan North ... Mayor Don Bottman
Lynne Thigpen ... Leonna Barrett
Robin Bartlett ... Mrs. Elliott
Michael Beach ... Mr. Darnell
Ethan Phillips ... Mr. Rosenberg
Sandra Reaves-Phillips ... Mrs. Powers
Sloane Shelton Sloane Shelton ... Mrs. Hamilton
Jermaine 'Huggy' Hopkins ... Thomas Sams
Karen Malina White ... Kaneesha Carter
Karina Arroyave ... Maria
Ivonne Coll ... Mrs. Santos
Regina Taylor ... 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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish | Portuguese

Release Date:

3 March 1989 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Apóyate en mí See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$10,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$5,000,000, 5 March 1989, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$31,906,454
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Several homages to Sesame Street (1969) are referenced in the film - when Clark was seen as a history teacher, in the 1967 scene, he sported an Afro (similar to the character Easy Reader on The Electric Company (1971), where Morgan Freeman was part of the cast) and when he arrives at Eastside High, on the first day on the job, he wears a business suit similar to the one he had during The Electric Company's opening credits. Dr. Napier said to Clark, in one scene, that he is a Big Bird with Radar, which was a double entendre (either as an airplane or the famous Sesame Street character with his pet teddy bear). Also, Lynne Thigpen would later join the cast of the PBS series, Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? (1991), as the Chief. See more »

Goofs

Since crack is a highly addictive substance, Thomas Sams wouldn't have been able to detox and quit cold turkey in such a short period of time. See more »

Quotes

Joe Clark: [looks at the boys restroom, suspects Sams is hiding something] What do you got in here, Sams?
Thomas Sams: You don't want to go in there Mr. Clark it stinks!
[Clark grabs Sams and they go into the boys restroom]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Saturday Night Live: Bryan Cranston/Kanye West (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

HIT THE ROAD, JACK
Written by Percy Mayfield
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User Reviews

YAY!! Someone get me a bat and a bullhorn!

Rocky and Karate Kid director, John Avildsen takes his stand-up-and-cheer style from the ring and the dojo to the halls of New Jersey's Eastside High School in this true story of the mercurial, and controversial, principal, Joe Clark. Morgan Freeman shines and has a strong supporting cast in this loud and manipulative, but nonetheless effective entry into the educator-hero genre. The story strains credibility and often goes over the top, but the fast pace and great Freeman performance allow this to still be an entertaining film.

Freeman's Joe Clark is recruited by Superintendent, Frank Napier (Robert Guillaume) for the seemingly impossible task of turning around the violent and out of control Eastside High School School and somehow motivating the staff and students to improve their results on the State Literacy Exam, or else see the school fall under state control. Clark uses a bullhorn, a baseball bat and a confrontational style with his staff and combines it with a tough, nurturing relationship with his students to try to bring this about, while battling alienated staff and angry parents, led by Ms. Levias (Lynne Thigpen) to try to bring about the desired changes.

Sure, this film is far-fetched and overblown and even has a couple scenes that approach unintentional humor, but it has enough strengths to compensate and make it worthwhile viewing for those who enjoy the true story school genre that Hollywood loves so much. Morgan Freeman is always a pleasure to watch and he is very strong here. So get ready to stand up and cheer!

(This review was first posted on realmoviereview.com)


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