I’m not a film critic but I can’t say that I found “Won’t Back Down,” which opens nationally this weekend, to be a great film. Nonetheless, it’s a very significant one for reasons that have little to do with its predictable storyline and a lot to do with our national conversation about schools. That’s what my TIME column today takes a look at: When mainstream actresses start taking on what would have been politically unpalatable roles just a few years ago, something is happening.
When the journalist Mickey Kaus reviewed cars, he would sometimes ask if they passed the “Saturday night test”—meaning regardless of how well they drove, would he want to pick a date up in one? After watching “Won’t Back Down” a few times in screenings this year, I found myself asking essentially the same question: my wife and I work in education, but I’m not sure the new Maggie Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, and Holly Hunter film clears the bar for date night. The predictable storyline feels more like a 1980s after-school special than a big screen movie. But what’s actually on the screen for two hours isn’t what makes “Won’t Back Down” matter so much for education.
The film is about a majority of parents who want to change their school but you don’t need a majority to read the entire column and find out, one click here will do it.