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Freedom Writers Review

Movies.com Critics

4.5

Dave White Profile

… lovey-dovey … Read full review

Other Critics provided by Metacritic.com

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0
    64

    out of 100

    Metascore®
    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 50

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    Freedom Writers is an earnest, well-meaning attempt at inspirational teen drama. It has some moving scenes and honest observations, based on a school in Long Beach, Calif., but the movie sinks under the weight of formula and stereotypes.

    Read Full Review

  • 50

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Kirk Honeycutt

    The film is both too short and too long at two hours-plus. Not enough time is spent with the teens and far too much with their teacher.

    Read Full Review

  • 75

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

    Square, sincere, and proud of it.

    Read Full Review

  • 75

    out of 100

    ReelViews James Berardinelli

    Freedom Writers delivers the expected messages about hope and the ability to change one's destiny, and does it in a manner that it is emotionally and intellectually satisfying.

    Read Full Review

  • 75

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Michael Wilmington

    Hilary Swank gives a powerhouse performance as a maverick high school teacher in Freedom Writers, an often gripping and sometimes even inspiring film drama taken from the real-life story of Erin Gruwell.

    Read Full Review

  • See all Freedom Writers reviews at Metacritic.com

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 13+

Familiar plot has a strong, inspirational message.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that, thanks to its hip-hop soundtrack and rebellious teen characters, this drama about high school students will appeal to many kids. It deals with some mature themes -- gang violence, loss of a friend or family member, the Holocaust -- in tasteful, if formulaic, ways. Violent scenes include fighting on campus and a street shooting (a boy is killed, his bloody chest visible). Kids argue with each other and their teacher, disrespecting her verbally and laughing at her. Students discuss the Holocaust, Anne Frank, and meet a survivor who describes her ordeal. Students write about their losses in their journals, which the teacher reads out loud or in voiceover (these are sad moments). Language includes several uses of "s--t," "damn," and one use of the n-word in anger (the context is a student journal description of police abuses).

  • Families can talk about the way that Erin engages her students -- by listening to them. How is this an effective way to teach? How do the students learn from one other when they share their stories? How is the Holocaust a helpful historical example for these "at-risk" students? What do they learn from Anne Frank's ability to see beauty in the world even in her bleak situation? How does Erin's dedication to her students affect her personal life? What other movies is this one similar to? What sets it apart?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: High school students disrespect their teacher until she earns their admiration; she is utterly noble and motivated only to help them succeed. A student's drawing shows another student with exaggerated, racist features (big lips and nose).

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: Repeated verbal and visual references to street/gun violence (the film opens with clips from the Rodney King tape, riots in Los Angeles, and reports on murders in Long Beach); brief but jolting fight between students (one pulls a gun); security/metal detectors at school; a shooting leaves one boy with a bloody bullet wound in chest (explicit and upsetting); discussions about losing friends to shootings, as well as historical systems of oppression (specifically, the Holocaust); descriptions of Holocaust violence; girl appears with bruises as she describes her hard life.

  • sex false0

    Sex: Allusions to teen pregnancy; some kissing between high school couples; girls in tight outfits; some kissing between a married couple.

  • language false3

    Language: Some profanity, including one use of "f--k" and multiple uses of "ass" (and "dumbass"), "s--t," and "damn." One student's journal entry (read out loud) uses the n-word; single uses of "bitch" and "balls." Reference to "sex, drugs, cursing, and fornication in black literature."

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Brief references to Cops, Homer Simpson, Tupac Shakur, Marriot hotel, Borders Books.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Erin and Scott drink wine several times; she gets drunk after an emotional upheaval. Class toasts "for change."

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