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When principal Joe Clark (Morgan Freeman) takes over decaying Eastside High School, he's faced with students wearing gang colors and graffiti-covered walls. Determined to do anything he must to turn the school around, he expels suspected drug dealers, padlocks doors and demands effort and results from students, staff and parents. Autocratic to a fault, this real-life educator put it all on the lin
This is a disturbing film. It's effective enough on narrative terms, but Joe Louis Clark is portrayed as an asshole. His ideas about supervising teachers are so clearly wrong-headed as to be insulting. That would be one thing if the film was in any way historically accurate, but it's not. Anyone who wants to bleat that "you can't argue with his results" should know that, in fact, you can argue with his results, and many people do. This film was not made by schoolteachers; it was made by Hollywood bigshots who wanted to send a glib, pat message about "what minorities need." It is at core a dangerous and, arguably, a profoundly racist and classist message. Education policy should be made by people who don't learn their techniques from Hollywood.
Morgan Freeman portrays Joe Clark, a principal known for his harsh approach to discipline. He insists students sing the school's alma mater. He locks the doors to keep out drug dealers. He frequently clashes with his teachers and dismisses those who dare to question his absolute authority.
Freeman is transcendent in Shawshank Redemption (1994) and excellent in Driving Miss Daisy (1989), Unforgiven (1992), and Million Dollar Baby (2004), but even an actor of his talent cannot save this film.
John Avildsen directed Rocky (1976) and the first three films in The Karate Kid series and should stick to movies about plucky sports underdogs.
The ideas the film endorses about education and discipline in schools is out of sync with modern ideas. It's interesting to observe how different modern attitudes are from those held only a quarter century ago, but the movie isn't very good.
"You will sing the school song upon demand, or suffer dire consequences!"
"We don't want a good principal, we want Mr. Clark."
Sample dialgue from "Lean on Me"
In which Joe Clark (Morgan Freeman) is brought in as a principle/H.N.I.C to bring some discipline to a beyond troubled inner city school. The movie opens with a younger Clark teaching and clashing with authority then flashes forward 20 years to the state of the high school now. This is one of John G Avildsen's strongest sequences as director, chaotic, scary and very sad at the same time, it's a tone that the film never really returns to but it gives the movie some real initial urgency.
The rest of the…
''I don't have to do nothin' but stay black and die!''
Even though it's based on a true story that was very famous at the time, "Lean on Me" is filled with typical Hollywood embellishments. They don't make the movie any less enjoyable, in fact on the contrary they make make the movie a lot more enjoyable. Director John G. Avildsen in is full-fledged "Rocky" mode, and he was the perfect choice to helm this inspirational, engaging and manipulative picture. He's a master at these underdog-makes-good movies, as witnessed in the Sylvester Stallone classic and "The Karate Kid".
Morgan Freeman is equally well-suited to his role as controversial high school principal Joe Clark, and he gives a terrific performance. In a grittier, less "rah rah" movie, he may have been an…
There are times when a film can actually be made a good film simply on the basis of a single lead performance. Lean on Me is just such a film. Without its central performance, it's an absolute mess. With Morgan Freeman, it's a passable film.
It would be easy to look at Freeman's turn as Joe Louis Clark as just another in a long line of bombastic authority figure turns. There've been several of them throughout Hollywood's history, particularly in my lifetime (see Coach Carter et al). What makes Freeman stand out is that there are moments in which he manages to imbue some semblance of humanity into his character. He's able to create the fact that, though he may…
This movie tells the tale of a crazy principal who is willing to push the rules to improve the test scores of his school. It's very inspirational and great to see an early Morgan Freeman in action. Not the greatest acting or realistic story, but still a solid watch.
"You've tried it your way for years, and your students can't even pass the State's Minimum Basic Skills Test. THAT MEANS THEY CAN BARELY READ! Now, they've given me one year to turn this place around - to get those test scores up - so that the State will not take us over to perform the task which YOU have failed to accomplish: the task of EDUCATING OUR CHILDREN! So forget about the way it used to be. This is not a damn democracy! We are in a state of emergency and my word is law! There's only one boss around here, and that's me. The HNIC.
Head Nigger In Charge."
"Welcome to the Jungle" intro music threw me, I would have SWORN this movie was much earlier than 1989... It's the movie that made me see Morgan Freeman as a movie star and not just Easy Reader though the film starts with Freeman in the EZ-Reader costume...
Passionate and PC-oblivious man comes home to clean up the school using his unconventional ways. Wiping away the filth and instilling hope in the students, Clark angers his faculty and the powers that be but he doesn't care because he is making progress and the students adore him.
In the end, he makes a difference but if you look past the sweeping story, the reality hides just beneath the surface; drugs are still rampant, teen girls are still pregnant. Even a loving dictator can't solve everything.
Quite possibly the only over the top performance I've ever seen Morgan Freeman give. Maybe that principal really was that obnoxious in real-life, but at least in the school districts I worked in, he either would have been fired in the first day or had his ass beaten by a combination of teachers and students. It does have some nice moments, however, but it just falls into too many movie clichés.
Both heartfelt and unintentionally hilarious in certain parts, mostly due to the ferocity of Freeman's acting (people tend to forget he was the big yelling almost scary black guy in movies before Samuel L Jackson).
"33% scored on the exams. THAT MEANS THEY CAN HARDLY READ!"
"They used to call me Crazy Joe, now they call me BATMAN!"
"You smoke CRACK, doncha? DONCHA?!"
I watched this too many times... thank you cable.
I'm very conflicted but Freeman is so good but like yeah politically this is not the best thing ever, but it sucked me in
I'd say I was shocked this movie hasn't been parodied more. Then again, it already feels like a joke to begin with.
This film really surprised me because I have no idea on how I stand on it. It's such a peculiar film and one that completely mishandles its narrative, characters and themes.
This could and should be a rousing film. It sometimes tries to be, but it should be so much more effective. It really should be doing better. Released the same year as 'Do The Right Thing', the commentaries and themes aren't as good or impacting as they should be. The film can just come off as cheesy or ineffective.
It really does have so many tones and personality clashes that when it comes to the cheesy music and montage of progression, you just can't take the film that seriously.…
[after his parents have left, thinking he is ill] "They bought it. Incredible! One of the worst performances of my…
I've always been interested in what other people are seeing and watching, and naturally, I love looking at Weekend Box…