While the movie is certainly made up of familiar parts, there's a little Shawshank Redemption, Bad Boys (Sean Penn movie), and pretty much every 'jail' trope in existence, this film is a pretty damn good movie. It has good writing and a damn good cast. I don't think it manages to set itself apart from other films of this ilk, but it is more than solid. Thankfully the movie isn't AS serious as some of its contemporaries as it sees this group of four boys befriend each other and how their friendship makes life in this institution a little easier. If there IS a problem with this is that, out of nowhere, these 4 boys are friends. Butch, Davis, and Angel all come into the institution on the same day, but it wasn't implied that they were friends. So they start off their time in this institution having nothing to do with the other. Then there's this sequence where three of them end up in solitary for different reasons. After they get out of solitary they're, magically, friends. There was like an important chunk of the movie missing, because there was nothing that would lead you to believe that they've become friends, well other than the movie telling you they are. That was definitely a problem to me, because this is the most important element of the film...this friendship between these kids. As mentioned, the film is sort of mired in formula and I do think that some of the events in the film were probably too 'tragic' for their own good. I also liked the way the film was shot, I think it gave it a credible and more realistic look. I don't wanna see a documentary style, but more realistic than your typical movie. Not much else to say, a movie that's showered in formula, still damn good with some great performances and a believable look at these kids' lives and how the institution helps them become closer to each other.