6.4/10
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40 user 99 critic

Won't Back Down (2012)

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2:32 | Trailer
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.

Director:

Daniel Barnz
1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Maggie Gyllenhaal ... Jamie Fitzpatrick
Viola Davis ... Nona Alberts
Oscar Isaac ... Michael Perry
Holly Hunter ... Evelyn Riske
Rosie Perez ... Breena Harper
Emily Alyn Lind ... Malia Fitzpatrick
Dante Brown ... Cody Alberts
Lance Reddick ... Charles Alberts
Ving Rhames ... Principal Thompson
Bill Nunn ... Principal Holland
Ned Eisenberg ... Arthur Gould
Marianne Jean-Baptiste ... Olivia Lopez
Liza Colón-Zayas ... Yvonne
Nancy Bach Nancy Bach ... Deborah
Keith Flippen ... Ben
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

28 September 2012 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Learning to Fly See more »

Filming Locations:

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$2,603,370, 30 September 2012

Gross USA:

$5,310,554

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$5,378,228
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Datasat | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color (ACES)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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

Quotes

Jamie Fitzpatrick: I've just never been able to talk smart people into doing things before.
See more »

Connections

Featured in The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Episode #21.4 (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

Hey Hey Hey
Written by Michael Franti
Performed by Michael Franti & Spearhead
Courtesy of Capitol Records
Under License from EMI Film & Television Music
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Poorly marketed, received drama trying to fight the good fight
10 November 2012 | by napierslogsSee all my reviews

Jamie Fitzpatrick (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is a single mother trying to hold down two jobs, struggling to afford a good education for her daughter. "Won't Back Down" is her fight to change the public school system. Joining her is a strong, tough, independent disenchanted black teacher, Nona Alberts (Viola Davis). It's a drama poorly marketed as anti-union propaganda and was just as poorly received.

The film isn't as bad as the critics' ratings, the dismal box office performance, or the word-of-mouth criticism suggests. It's certainly not great. The predictability, the cloying sentimentality, and desire for perfection make sure it won't reach the great heights that the film seems to have envisioned for itself. But for people who like dramas where a disenfranchised community comes together to fight against a system, the film does hit the right notes.

Overall the acting is great, even though Davis can kiss her award chances goodbye. Gyllenhaal was the only one that attempted to add some comedy to her role. She has always been great at melding together drama and comedy and more comedy always seems to be a good thing. The best role, however, was Oscar Isaac who played both Jamie's love interest and a teacher who was doing his best to not fail the students. He supported the union, respected his fellow teachers, respected his students, fell in love with Jamie and supported her cause even though his multiple stances would frequently be at odds. He also did all of the above with a guitar strapped over his shoulder and made little girls laugh with renditions of Johnny Cash songs. It's too bad he won't be able to garner any Oscar buzz.

I'm assuming one of the major issues with the failing of this film was the timing of the release. Although September marks the beginning of the school year, it is also a time of hope, optimism for the year that could be. Parents and children alike believing that this year they're going to find a teacher that inspires them and see their dreams for the future come true. It's not a time for the reminder that the public school education system sucks. This film would be better left for February, during the ides of winter, when students and parents alike are struggling to learn what they're supposed to know and have lost the optimism they had just six months earlier. At its best, "Won't Back Down" would be able to provide that lost hope; fighting the good fight, as long as that doesn't get too monotonous.


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