EduShyster is counting the days until this fall’s must-see bad teacher movie, “Won’t Back Down,” arrives at the local mega-plex. J’adore movies that are inspired by true events, like “Alien” or “I Married an Axe Murderer.” In fact, excitement is so high in the EduShyster camp that I’ve already begun assembling the props I’ll need for the midnight showing: a bushel of rotten apples to hurl at the screen every time a bad teacher appears, a stack of phone books to symbolize the innovation-stifling heft of the teacher union contract, petition forms to gather enough signatures for patrons to take over the theater if the popcorn is stale.
So far early reviews of “Won’t Back Down” have given the film an A+++++++++++++++++++. Of course these reviews came from the special screening of the film at the Democratic National Convention, hosted by Democrats for Education Reform and Students First. But what about viewers who aren’t jacked up on #edreform juice or know anything about actual public schools?
Well, not so much. Sadly it seems that what we have on our hands here isn’t another bad teacher movie but a really BAD movie about “teachers.” Here are a few nuggets of cinematic joy delivered courtesy of teacher, blogger and self-described movie buff Gary Rubinstein.
- The union contract that protects the bad teachers at Pittsburgh’s Adams Elementary School is 600 pages long–and prohibits the teachers from staying after school to work with their students. If you miss this subtlety the first time around, not to worry as it is repeated throughout the movie.
- The students at Adams who are fortunate enough to have a handsome young Teach for America teacher spend their time line dancing while their handsome young Teach for America teacher sings songs about going to college. This is how we knows he is excellent.
- While we are told early and often that Adams is a dog of a school, there is apparently only 1 really bad teacher there. We know she is bad because she spends her time texting while Maggie Gyllenhaal’s daughter struggles to read because of her dyslexia. When Gyllenhaal asks about getting her daughter extra help, bad teacher reminds her that the school day ends at 3:00. Although to be fair she’s just sayin’ what’s in the 600 page union contract.
- The #2 at the local teacher’s union, played by Holly Hunter (who I suspect needs a “massage” in this film even more than she did in “Living Out Loud”) tries to buy off Gyllenhaal by offering to pull some strings to get her dyslexic daughter a scholarship to an expensive private school. No mention of whether this scene take’s place in Hunter’s 2002 Hyundai.
- “Won’t Back Down’s” climactic scene has parents and teachers presenting the signatures needed to convert Adams into a charter to a school board that is known to be notoriously friendly to the local union. Naturally the board initially votes down the charter, but only because it turns out that Maggie Gyllenhaal’s character has dyslexia too and has accidentally bungled some of the figures in the group’s presentation!
- After Maggie Gyllenhaal looks into the camera and reminds viewers not to forget that “this is for the kids,” there is a new vote and the charter passes!!!! Fast forward a year later and Adams is a totally different school with all of the same teachers (except for that one REALLY BAD ONE who is hopefully at a forced work camp where no cell phones are allowed). And best of all, the 600 page long innovation-stifling union contract is gone too so now the teachers can finally stay after school and they can even teach Shakespeare, which was apparently also banned by the union contract.
In other words, the movie is great! And did I mention that it was inspired by true events??? See you at the mega-plex.