Won’t Back Down

wont back down


Cast: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Oscar Issac, Holly Hunter, Rosie Perez, Ving Rhames, Emily Alyn Lind, Lance Reddick

Written By: Brin Hill, Daniel Barnz

Directed By: Daniel Barnz

Surprisingly, this isn’t the first film by Daniel Barnz. He previously directed the little-seen Phoebe In Wonderland, and the floptastic Beastly. After the box office for Won’t Back Down, I doubt we’ll be seeing much of him as a feature director. The truth is, that despite the stellar cast, Won’t Back Down never feels like it’s anything more than a made-for-TV movie. It’s a Hallmark “Movie of the Week”. A story so inspirational, you need a box of kleenex and a soul just to make it to the end. Despite all of Maggie Gyllenhaal’s scene chewing, she can’t save the film from being a Lifetime event.

The idea behind Won’t Back Down is that an uneducated mother (Gyllenhaal) of a dyslexic girl (Revenge’s Emily Alyn Lind), can team up with a teacher (Viola Davis) who is tired of the broken system she works in, and together they can be the change. It’s like an inspirational buddy cop dramedy, except this is rarely funny, and there are no cops (unfortunately). Oscar Issac plays a man who sings songs about college to his students, Holly Hunter plays a bitchy teacher’s union representative, and Rosie Perez is just excited that someone hired her for something.

The whole script is over plotted, meaning that you feel like you’re constantly being hit over the head with issues. “SCHOOLS ARE FAILING! WAKE UP!” And the characters are painted in overdone colors of good and evil, that you can’t ever take Hunter seriously, even when she switches sides (sorry, it’s an inspirational movie, not a real drama, that’s not a spoiler). At the end of the movie, you’ll still find yourself asking ‘How did Maggie Gyllenhaal’s uneducated bartender, who is also dyslexic, write all those legal briefs?” and “What subject does Oscar Issac’s teacher actually teach?”

If you’re OK with being spoonfed, and you really love your Hallmark Hall of Fame movies, or the Lifetime movies, then this is totally for you. This is like a Grade A version of those films. But if you think you stumbled upon a gem that people just missed last year, you’re totally wrong.


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