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Won't Back Down Review Critics


Dave White Profile

Union Thug Life Read full review

Other Critics provided by

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

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 50

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter

    The movie addresses timely issues but eschews shading in favor of blunt black and white. It's old-school Lifetime fodder dressed up in Hollywood trappings.

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  • 63

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    While there are moments where this drama, about a pair of mothers hellbent on improving their children's education, is compelling and deeply moving, the film gets mired in heavy-handed cliches.

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  • 83

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    Won't Back Down says that whatever your feelings about the subject, lack of change cannot be the answer to our public-education crisis. Trying to cram an informational exposé and a vintage inspirational awards-bait weeper into one movie, Won't Back Down is awkward at times, yet it's also passionate in a surprisingly smart way. It makes a genuine drama out of impossible issues.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 9+

Inspiring tale of a mom's quest to better her kid's school.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Won't Back Down, which is based on actual events, follows a mother's journey to turn her daughter's failing elementary school around. There's some insulting language ("idiot," "retard," as well as "ass") and bullying -- a teacher does nothing as a student rips another student's backpack, and the same teacher purposely keeps a kid from leaving class to use the bathroom. Jamie, the protagonist mom, wears tight clothes and flirts with pretty much everyone -- culminating in a romantic relationship with a teacher at her child's school. Adults drink at a bar and restaurant, but there's no drunkenness. Parents and kids will be reminded of the difference that just one or two people can make in a community.

  • Families can talk about whether movies based on true stories should follow them closely, or if it's OK for the films to change some facts in the interest of the storyline. Does this movie make you want to learn more about what really happened?
  • Some critics have said Won't Back Down is too one-sided when it comes to the teachers' union. Do you think the movie is meant as a political commentary or just a story about a parent and teacher's triumph?
  • Although this is a movie about education, the emphasis is less on teacher-student relationships and more on parent-teacher relationships. How is Jamie an unlikely crusader for education? Do you think the fact she's not so educated herself makes her mission even more sympathetic?

The good stuff
  • message true3

    Messages: Plenty of positive messages in this feel-good drama, particularly that all it takes is one or two people to galvanize a community and enact change. Jamie and Nona have nothing in common when the movie starts, but against all odds they join together to help create a better school, even though that means exposing themselves to gossip and ridicule. Pro-union families should know that the depiction of the teachers' union is negative, even though a teacher explains all the good the union does as well.

  • rolemodels true4

    Role models: Jamie will stop at nothing to help secure a better education for her daughter. Even though she isn't that educated herself, she has a fiery spirit and refuses to back down even in the face of overwhelming bureaucracy. Nona joins Jamie's mission and in the process becomes a better teacher.

What to watch for
  • violence false0

    Violence: Not necessarily violent, but very upsetting: A teacher purposely keeps a student from going to the bathroom, so she has an accident in front of the class.

  • sex false2

    Sex: Jamie dresses suggestively (tight jeans, midriff-baring tops) and basically seduces a teacher who becomes her boyfriend. There's kissing, and it's clear he spends the night at her house, but there aren't any love scenes.

  • language false2

    Language: Insulting language such as "stupid," "idiot," "retard," "slow," "sucks," "dumb," "uneducated." One or two uses of "ass" and "Jesus" (as an exclamation).

  • consumerism false1

    Consumerism: Malia has a Le Sportsac backpack that her mother says cost a fortune, and Jamie buys Dunkin Donuts coffee.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Adults drink several times at a bar. A mother relates a harrowing tale about what happened when she drove under the influence when her child was a baby.