The Critic is "IN"

Gilda and I saw Freedom Writers tonight. I got in free with my school district paystub. With me paying for Gilda, it was like two for half price. Anywho, I was touched by the movie but felt it ended with more story to tell. Probably what anyone who's read the book before seeing the movie would say. I knew it would be hard to put a very prose-based book (a compendium of 150 students' diary entries that chronicle their 4 years together) onto the silver screen. Yet, producers Danny DeVito and company did a good job. The movie shows a lot more of the background drama of Erin Gruwell, teacher, with her husband and father not entirely appreciating the sacrifices that she's making for her students.

I give props to the movie for filming on location in Long Beach. Wilson High School looked like Jordan HS in North Long Beach, but the credits thanked LA Unified District. Some of the class procedures seemed to casual: like Gruwell inspecting her classroom just minutes before the first day bell was to ring, a supervisor waiting in the hallway to break up fights, and the entire campus going berserk instead of into lockdown when gangsters come to rough some guy up. But aside from the Hollywood drama designed to keep viewers' attention, I thought some of the scenes were very touching. Hearing the own stories of Holocaust stories always brings a tear to my eyes. Hillary Swank did a good job of sounding and looking like a white teacher not entirely down with street culture. Instead of being a teacher-as-hero movie, I think FW balanced the voices and scenes of students with teacher.

If you're a teacher, you've got one more day to see it free. But, in the end, I would pay money to see this movie just to see the views of Long Beach, stories of students' lives, and a positive message. This critic gives it *** 1/2 stars!

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