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Parent trigger flick “Won’t Back Down” gets rough landing at box office

The fictional tale of a controversial education policy played out in a poor Pittsburgh neighborhood has seen dismal reviews and box office tallies since its Sept. 28th opening.

“Wont’ Back Down” pits two women, played by accomplished actresses Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis, who join together to demand a failing school be overhauled using a controversial education policy known as “parent trigger” mechanism.

(The idea is that parents can band together and say “enough is enough” to a bad school, though there’s yet to be a single case where it’s worked in America.)

Rotten Tomatoes, the movie review aggregator, had it with just a 33 percent approval rating from critics, though audiences seemed a bit more appreciative with a 61 percent approval rating.

Rotten Tomatoes review of WBD

Needless to say, it has not shaken out to be the modern-day “Lean on Me.”

A.O. Scott of the New York Times had this to say about “Wont’ Back Down”: “However you take its politics, the film upholds a dreary tradition of simplifying and sentimentalizing matters of serious social concern, and dumbing down issues that call for clarity and creative thinking.”

And the L.A. Times found the movie “So shamelessly manipulative and hopelessly bogus it will make you bite your tongue in regret and despair.”

Ouch.

Here at N.C. Policy Watch, in what may have been our first foray into public policy movie-reviewing, I had a chance to watch an early showing of the movie at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte in September.

The movie had showing at both the DNC and Republican National Convention coupled with panels talking about the potential of bringing parent trigger laws to fruition.

In case you missed it then, here’s a link to the story I did in early September about the movie, and the larger policy agenda behind it. North Carolina may be a target, with former Washington D.C. superintendent Michelle Rhee considering bringing her pro-trigger group “StudentsFirst” to the Tar Heel state.

Enjoy, and feel free to share your thoughts about parent trigger, the movie, or my budding movie-reviewing skills below.

 

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