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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Boring writers

    The New Year is usually a time for fresh starts and new beginnings. However, “”Freedom Writers”” is anything but new, falling on old familiar territory about inspirational teachers. This movie is like “”Dangerous Minds”” all over again, except without a cool soundtrack featuring Coolio.

    Erin Gruwell (Hilary Swank) is a young teacher who’s inspired to take on the troublesome youths of a restless Los Angeles during the Rodney King riots. She sees this as her chance to do something for the civil rights movement by helping these kids in the classroom instead of in the courtroom.

    Her English class starts off by resenting her. Gruwell has no understanding of how to

    “”Freedom Writers””
    Rating: PG-13
    Length: 123 min.
    Production Company:
    Paramount Picture
    7/10

    shandle them and at one point she even prints out Tupac lyrics to teach them grammar; the students just laugh at her lame attempts.

    She learns that the best way to relate to them is not to talk down to them, but to find subjects that would peak their interests. Gruwell assigns “”The Diary of Anne Frank”” to the class instead of using the required reading list. The students find similarities in the gang warfare that fills their streets and the oppression of Anne Frank by the Germans. With their new interest in reading materials and her passion for teaching, the teenagers of her class go on to graduate from high school, some of whom are the first in their families to ever do so.

    The problem with “”Freedom Writers”” is not that it’s a bad plot, but that it reuses every single plot trick that prior “”inspirational”” movies have already thrown in.

    Gruwell’s dad thinks she should have a career that demands more of her intellect, her husband (Patrick Dempsey) is resentful of the time she spends on work and the principal won’t give her the proper resources to teach her students. Any possible obstacle that could present itself to her happens. Before anything even happens, you can guess what will occur next. Some might like the predictability, but it makes for a rather unexciting film.

    Even Academy Award winner Swank can’t save it. Every time she shed tears in her last film, “”Million Dollar Baby,”” it sent a sharp jab to your heart. It comes off this time as tired and clichǸ. Her acting is strained; for someone who seemed so natural in “”Million Dollar Baby,”” the opposite is true here.

    Her attempts to be eager and earnest come off as something you’d see in a movie on the Lifetime Channel. The acting is overblown, rather than properly toned down for a film.

    We get it already: people like teachers. We’ve all had teachers at some time who have inspired us to go above and beyond. The question is whether a movie needs to made every single time to document this.

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