Think of the most bor­ing class you had to sit through in school...

Winnipeg Free Press - Section D - - ENTERTAINMENT - By David Ger­main

THE fo­cus of the save-our-school drama Won’t Back Down prac­ti­cally as­sures it will fail to join the ranks of great, or even good, ed­u­ca­tion tales.

The movie takes the story out of the class­room and into the halls of bu­reau­cracy, leav­ing al­most ev­ery kid be­hind to cen­tre on two plucky par­ents bat­tling en­trenched ad­min­is­tra­tors and union lead­ers to turn around a fail­ing school.

So es­sen­tially, it’s a school board meet­ing. Or school bored meet­ing. De­spite earnest per­for­mances from Mag­gie Gyl­len­haal and Vi­ola Davis as a pair of moms lead­ing the fight, Won’t Back Down lives down to its bland, us-against-them ti­tle with a sim­ple-minded as­sault on the ills of pub­lic schools that lum­bers along like dron­ing mul­ti­pli­ca­tion tables in a math class.

Di­rec­tor and co-writer Daniel Barnz ( Beastly) made his fea­ture de­but with 2009’s Phoebe in Won­der­land, an in­ti­mate story of a trou­bled girl aided by an un­con­ven­tional teacher. Here, Barnz gets lost in red tape as Won’t Back Down gives us the inside dope on the teacher’s lounge, the union head­quar­ters, the prin­ci­pal-teacher show­down, the hushed halls of the board of ed­u­ca­tion.

Theatres should in­stall glow-in-thedark ver­sions of those old clunk­ing class­room clocks so view­ers can count the ag­o­niz­ing min­utes tick­ing by as they watch the movie.

Pref­aced by the generic “in­spired by true events” tag, Won’t Back Down stars Gyl­len­haal as sin­gle mother Jamie Fitz­patrick, who’s des­per­ately try­ing to get her dyslexic daugh­ter (Emily Alyn Lind) into a bet­ter place than John Adams, the dread­ful in­nercity school she now at­tends.

Jamie be­friends Adams teacher Nona Al­berts (Davis), a once-in­spired ed­u­ca­tor worn down by the sys­tem and by trou­ble at home as her mar­riage crum­bles and her son strug­gles at school him­self.

“So you want to start a school with me?” Jamie asks Nona, af­ter learn­ing about a pro­gram that al­lows par­ents and teach­ers to hud­dle up and seize con­trol of fail­ing schools. It’s tossed off as ca­su­ally as if Jamie had said, “Let’s put on a show” to raise money for band uni­forms, and their joust­ing


Don’t let their smiles fool you; Davis (left) and Gyl­len­haal are prob­a­bly bored, too.

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