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There is of course not any doubt about it that this movie got made with all of the right intentions and it had its heart at the right place. That however doesn't mean that the movie is also being a powerful and effective one as well!

It's one of those movies in which the 'comon' folk rises up against the stronger, established bureaucracy. In this case it concerns some parents and teachers who are trying to create a better learning environment for the kids. They try to change stuff, while the established powers are all opposed change of any sort and do everything without their power to try and stop the ones who are trying to change things for the good. And it's truly all as black and white as it sounds unfortunately!

Thing with this movie is that in essence it's not wrong of course, with any of its messages. You however still need to create a somewhat believable situation, in order to let things work out effective and engaging enough as well. This movie however completely fails at this, by creating some unlikely and unrealistic situations and over-the-top characters instead.

It's also strange to see how the movie itself seems to forget what it's truly about. They say they do it all for the kids but the kids themselves actually hardly play a role in this. It doesn't ever really show stuff from their perspective and when it does, it's usually concerning something highly unlikely and laughable. No, at a certain point if feels like the parents/teachers are all making it about something personal instead and simply want to 'win', at basically all costs because they are all too deep and far into to still stop or turn back.

And Maggie Gyllenhaal is just about the happiest protester you have ever seen. She is smiling her way through this movie and is obviously enjoying the whole 'fight', which for me certain also took away a lot of the credibility and drama of this movie. Perhaps it's true that otherwise this movie might had turned into something far more dry and boring but it at least would had made for a more credible movie to watch.

I'm not saying Maggie Gyllenhaal is a bad actress of course. As a matter of fact, there aren't really any bad performances in this, just some bad writing instead. You can't blame the actors for anything and they truly give all they got! Some actors also certainly are wasted in this movie, such as Holly Hunter for instance. I wonder, if her character got perhaps played by a lesser known name, would she had survived the editing process? Fact is that she plays a pretty wasteful character, that perhaps was still more important in an earlier version of the script but completely feels out of place and unnecessary in the actual movie.

Instead of being an inspiring and engaging movie, it's a mostly ineffective and instead, mostly due to its very forced, black and white approach and storytelling.

5/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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