Freedom Writers
PG-13
Entertainment: +3
Acceptability: -2

FREEDOM WRITERS Comes to DVD

The FREEDOM WRITERS DVD is presented in either full screen or widescreen enhanced for 16:9 TVs with Dolby Digital English 5.1 Surround, English 2.0 Surround and French (tbd) and English subtitles. The DVD includes the following special features: Feature-length commentary with director/writer Richard LaGravenese and Hilary Swank; Deleted scenes; Making A Dream' Freedom Writers Family; Freedom Writers: The Story Behind The Story; Photo gallery.

Hilary Swank, Patrick Dempsey, Scott Glenn, Imelda Staunton, April Lee Hernandez. Drama/biography. Written & directed by Richard LaGravenese.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Based on a true story, the film tells of high school English teacher Erin Gruwell, a young California woman who requests to be sent to a Long Beach school where she is determined to better the lives of students the education system feels are un-teachable. It seems impossible to get through their defiance until she comes up with the idea of having them keep a daily journal. Once they are able to express their inner torment, she begins to understand their situation and they begin to open up to her.

Hampered by a vice-principle who wont even give the class books, Erin takes on two extra jobs in order to pay for teaching materials. Time spent with the class begins to erode her marriage, but she is determined to help these teens get out of their nightmare existence.

PREVIEW REVIEW: An unabashed tribute to Erin Gruwell, her screen characterization makes the educator from Mr. Hollands Opus look like a complete shirker. Its a simple format: white mentor gets personally involved with minority students. Though some in this genre are better than others, they all have one thing in common they are inspirational. Hopefully these films reach struggling students and give educators a desire to do the best they can. Though nowadays, with moral precepts left in the faculty lounge, the task of reaching troubled teens is doubly difficult.

With nearly every white adult distant and uncaring, the scenes without the kids and their teacher seem heavy-handed. And poor Patrick Dempsey pouts his way through every scene like a petulant child unhappy with Santas offerings. But these are mild distractions as the films inspirational message transcends the films faults. Added to Hilary Swanks marvelous portrait, the performances of the class, plus the engaging and revealing dialogue written by Richard LaGravenese (based on the book) make this a worthwhile film-going experience.

Alas, there is one aspect of the film that troubles me (besides the occasional profanity). While helping the underprivileged is the most noble of causes, the sacrifice of a marriage union may seem justified in a story, but it is not something to be honored in real life. We live in an age where both man and wife must work in order to attain the American dream. That makes it extremely difficult as the couple find themselves going in different directions too often. But when vows are taken, bride and groom are assuring one another that they will forsake all others in order to maintain that union. Its a vow taken before the spouse, his or her family, and God. Taken with a cause, noble though it may be, the lead sacrifices her husbands needs in order to fulfill her own ambition. Hard call. Someone needs to help these children, but she already made her life choice. If marriage is to last, those taking the vows must adhere to them.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Paramount Pictures

Summary
Crude Language: Some tawdry teen talk.
Obscene Language: Ten or so obscene words (the f- and s-words) and several minor expletives (damns and hells).
Profanity: A profane use of Christs name and one of Gods.
Violence: Sprinkled throughout, we see the relentlessly violent world these kids live in. We see a teenage girl beaten by other teens. Gun shots are fired on several occasions, with at least two people killed. Blood: A little as we see a man dying from a gunshot wound.
Sexual Intercourse: None
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: None
Drug Abuse: None
Other: None
Running Time: 123 minutes
Intended Audience: Older teens and adults

Copyright Preview Family Movie Review (www.previeoOnline.org)