Won't Back Down - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Won't Back Down Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ February 17, 2014
3 3/4's--Very inspirational, and heartwarming. Made-for-tvish. A sad statement on the condition of the American education system, but depicts a good step for improvement. Well acted. Nicely done..
Super Reviewer
December 30, 2013
It's a film with a big heart, but it's just so schlocky... Maggie Gyllenhaal plays essentially the same role she did in Crazy Heart, and the supporting ensemble does alright, but as a whole the project is sentimentally overwrought and occasionally veers into Lifetime territory. I appreciate the value of the story, but it's just not much of a movie... "fighting the system" has become a predictable formula, and this particular film does nothing others haven't done already.
Super Reviewer
½ January 26, 2013
"Won't Back Down" is a movie about two mothers(Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis) who are fed up with their children's failing school. They decide to risk everything to make a difference by going against the teacher unions and set out to do a school take over with the other parents and change things for the better for the kids. It's an inspirational movie, even though it runs a tad long and some of the background plot doesn't really go anywhere and just bogs the movie down some. Gyllenhaal does ok, but Viola Davis is fantastic. She is one of the best actresses today without a doubt. Whether your for or against unions it doesn't matter, because this movie is about making a difference for children. Emily liked and it made it all the way through, so if that happens I can almost guarantee all women will like it. Guys, probably not, but it's okay for a one time watch.
Super Reviewer
February 27, 2013
Won't Back Down is a prime example of a movie that suffers from a weak script and average direction, but is saved by excellent and noteworthy performances. Having grand aspirations regarding the failing education system in urban public schools, it ultimately gives no solid solutions and overgeneralizes the myriad problems regarding said topic. Quite obviously, the movie leans heavily toward the right politically. (Damn those corrupt Teacher's Unions! If only everything ran like a business! That would fix urban blight!) Nevertheless, the performances given by Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal and the supporting cast keep the whole venture afloat. And it holds together better than "white savior" schlock like The Help. But when compared to other movies in its particular sub-genre such as Stand and Deliver and Lean on Me, or when its message is seriously analyzed, it doesn't quite make the grade.
Super Reviewer
½ May 9, 2012
I somewhat expected to be let down by the Viola Davis/Maggie Gyllenhaal vehicle that seemed to be purely inspirational for the purposes of honorable performances hoping to get noticed by Oscar. Though Won't Back Down is anything but subtle about its purpose and wears its heart on its sleeve proudly, it isn't anywhere near deserving of the fate it suffered at the box office. In fact, it is a rather affirming film that succeeds in large part to its strong lead performances that aren't as showy or as cheesy as I expected. Though Gyllenhaal certainly has the flashier role, she is able to subdue much of the typical aspects of what one might expect from her type of character by allowing the most important factor to never be forgotten, that she is in fact a mother first. Letting that sink in allows us to go along with the story written and directed by Daniel Barnz (who's had similar failure with Beastly) but knows as a writer how to navigate his way through a ton of information and streamline it into what the audience needs to grasp in order to maintain the main points of the story. He does that well here considering the difficult processes and massive amount of details likely required to do what these women decide to take on. The negative aspect to this though is his inability to pace his final product better. By the time we get to the halfway mark it feels like it should be drawing to a close. Viola Davis displays her strong instincts here but adds layers of uncertainty and regret for good measure. Despite glancing at my watch a few times throughout I still rather enjoyed the film for what it was and what it was trying to say. There is also the charming supporting cast that features Oscar Isaac and Rosie Perez that add nothing if not a little forgiveness for the overall films shortcomings.
½ August 27, 2015
A very inspirational and heartwarming drama. Yet despite its best efforts and good performances, there's a lack of captivating events that makes it boring.
½ September 28, 2014
Well-intentioned drama about parents who fight for a better education for their kids. (First and only viewing - 9/29/2014)
½ April 19, 2013
Davis is still good as she was in "The Help" with her performance of inspiring words in this really good drama that was inspired by a true event with a serious matter. (B)

(Full review coming soon)
October 7, 2012
I'm somewhere in the middle on this one. On one hand, this is a really interesting commentary on America's public school system. On the other hand, it got super anti-union and I felt like I needed to watch a documentary on the public school system in order to understand it. With the whole anti-union thing, I felt like it only showed the negative sides, and only mentioned the positives a few times, when it could have really opened up a debate about how unions are necessary, but policies should be looked over you know? This was also entirely too long. They easily could have shaved a half hour, possibly more off of this. Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis are good in this however. They're both concerned mothers who want what's best for their kid. There are some heart warming moments, but the big picture of the whole thing was just a little too big for this movie.
June 24, 2014
Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal make a great team. Both are terrific actors and they do a very nice job playing off each other. I watched this movie with my wife and we both loved it.
June 17, 2012
Reminded me why I went into the field of education and it wasn't because of the money it is because I want to help children.
January 7, 2014
omg! I think the movie Won't Back Down is about my childhood in first grade.. the kids are so nasty to this one girl and the teacher is such a bitch and told the girl to stop being such a drama queen when she started to cry cause the kids were picking on her, it brought back the memory of when my kids were doing that to me and the teacher yelled at me saying everything is not something to cry about ans the principal in the film is an ass to he won't do anything about the teacher or the students just like the principal when I was a kid and now the mother couldn't get the right teacher she requested for her daughter for the next grade!!!! The nice teacher in this film reminds me of my first fifth grade teacher who really cared about the students and was fired and that's what happened in this film too, but this movie has a happy ending cause the mother fought for her child and she was afraid to say she had learning difficulties when she was her daughter's age cause her school made her feel dumb ( and so did mine) but she is now realizing it seeing her daughter go through the same stuff that there needs to be something done about it and so she is and the lesson learned from this movie is that just because you have learning difficulties doesn't mean your dumb and you shouldn't allow people to walk all over you... but getting people to actually understand you and see your point is the hard part and sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn't.... when you see the young girl reading in front of people at the end of the movie shows acting is a great way to help express feeling and emotion and be able to get away from all that is going on in the real world and that's why i want to do it and another thing is that someday if I am ever lucky enough to have a kid which i don't think i will be I would want to do for my kid what Maggie Gyllenhal's character did for her kid in this movie and fight for him/her I kind of what do fight for kids now that are like me I hate when i read or hear on the news/newspapers that some kid/teenager has committed suicide or killed somebody cause nobody gave them the help they needed
½ October 12, 2013
Seemed so long, drawn out, and boring for the most part. Was not clear on what they were trying to do until almost the end.
September 24, 2013
A great movie. everybody else doesn't have a heart to judge it badly. This is what goes on everyday. This movie opens our eyes to understand that people are idiots half the time.
½ August 21, 2013
"Won't Back Down" 10 Scale Rating: 5.0 (Mediocre) ...

The Good: A hot topic that deserves attention and certainly is a good idea for a film. Viola Davis was great, which is starting be expected from her in every performance. There are some very good dramatic scenes in the film. It could have used more, but the few that it did have were well done.

The Bad: Maggie Gyllenhaal almost single-handedly ruined the film. Her character was supposed to be the tough as nails mom trying to get a better education for her daughter. Instead she grated on me and was extremely annoying. Sadly, the film as a whole also falls flat and misses the mark. It mostly glosses over the real issues and over simplifies it.
½ August 20, 2013
"Won't Back Down" 10 Scale Rating: 5.0 (Mediocre) ...

The Good: A hot topic that deserves attention and certainly is a good idea for a film. Viola Davis was great, which is starting be expected from her in every performance. There are some very good dramatic scenes in the film. It could have used more, but the few that it did have were well done.

The Bad: Maggie Gyllenhaal almost single-handedly ruined the film. Her character was supposed to be the tough as nails mom trying to get a better education for her daughter. Instead she grated on me and was extremely annoying. Sadly, the film as a whole also falls flat and misses the mark. It mostly glosses over the real issues and over simplifies it.
August 5, 2013
This was a good movie that showcases the wonderment of teaching and teachers everywhere. Though the acting was superb from its two leading ladies, the plot and its execution felt a little contrived and slow-paced at times. Though the message was received, I thought this film delivered greatly on the concept of education and whether or not teachers care to teach. A little more characterization could have helped the movie overall but was not a determining factor over its quality.
October 2, 2012
has a great message even though it feels like a lifetime movie at time and if your a parent put it on your must see list
½ September 24, 2012
This may be a small movie, but it looks very good. Has some great actresses to boot, including Rosie Perez who I haven't seen in a long while.
½ May 13, 2013
This movie attempts to play with our emotions but fails miserably. The characters just feel empty and the movie gets bogged down in the middle. By the end you know what is going to happen and you are just waiting for the movie to be over. The cast is talented with the likes of Holly Hunter and Viola Davis but unfortunately the script and director fail to make use of their talents.
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