Won't Back Down (2012) - Rotten Tomatoes

Won't Back Down (2012)



Critic Consensus: Despite the best efforts of its talented leads, Won't Back Down fails to lend sufficient dramatic heft or sophistication to the hot-button issue of education reform.

Movie Info

Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis play two determined mothers, one a teacher, who will stop at nothing to transform their children's failing inner city school. Facing a powerful and entrenched bureaucracy, they risk everything to make a difference in the education and future of their children. This powerful story of parenthood, friendship and courage mirrors events that are making headlines daily. -- (C) 20th Century Foxmore
Rating: PG (for thematic elements and language)
Genre: Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Daniel Barnz, Brin Hill
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jan 15, 2013
Box Office: $5.3M
20th Century Fox - Official Site


Maggie Gyllenhaal
as Jamie Fitzpatrick
Viola Davis
as Nona Alberts
Holly Hunter
as Evelyn Riske
Oscar Isaac
as Michael Perry
Rosie Perez
as Breena Harper
Emily Alyn Lind
as Malia Fitzpatrick
Dante Brown
as Cody Alberts
Ving Rhames
as Principal Thompson
Lance Reddick
as Charles Alberts
Bill Nunn
as Principal Holland
Ned Eisenberg
as Arthur Gould
Nancy Bach
as Deborah
Lucia Forte
as District Receptionis...
Sarab Kamoo
as Principal Chamudes
Teri Clark Linden
as Cody's Teacher
Joe Coyle
as Clay Bathgate
Jennifer Massey
as Valerie Bathgate
Reavis Graham
as Hank Hunt
Richard Barlow
as Mr. Brandt
Rebecca Harris
as Ms. Southwick
Kevin Jiggets
as Mr. Mannis
Patricia Cray
as Ms. Schwartz
Juan Veza
as Mr. Parrish
Sara Lindsey
as Thompson's Assistant
Sue Jin Song
as Bureaucrat #1
Ted Russell
as Bureaucrat #2
Carmella Gioio
as Bureaucrat #3
Kurt Yue
as Daddy Drop-off
Dionne Audain
as Adam's Parent
Becky Meister
as Teacher #1
Toni Romano
as Teacher #2
Stephen Weigand
as Riske's Assistant
Kyler Norton
as Nintendo Kid
Jack Walz
as Boy at Lottery
Ivanna Eubanks
as Girl at Lottery
Rick Applegate
as School Superintenden...
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Won't Back Down

Critic Reviews for Won't Back Down

All Critics (106) | Top Critics (36)

"Won't Back Down" packs a punch and it deserves to be seen, no matter one's political persuasion.

Full Review… | April 17, 2016

Funded by conservative Christian billionaire Phil Anschutz and released by rightwing overlord Rupert Murdoch, it attempts to fashion a feel-good family-friendly triumph of union busting and privatization.

Full Review… | May 3, 2015
Philadelphia Weekly

While the story is predictable, it compensates for that with great acting and a noble purpose.

Full Review… | June 30, 2013
Big Hollywood

A do-gooder movie so stupid and unoriginal it had to steal its title from a Tom Petty song.

Full Review… | May 26, 2013
The Patriot Ledger

'Dumbing down' a film about educational reform defeats any point; while proficiently made, Won't Back Down's glib feel-good message deserves to fall on deaf ears.

Full Review… | January 29, 2013
The List

As terrible as it sounds.

Full Review… | January 28, 2013

Audience Reviews for Won't Back Down


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..

Cynthia S.

Super Reviewer

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.

Daniel Perry

Super Reviewer


"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.

Everett Johnson
Everett Johnson

Super Reviewer

Won't Back Down Quotes

Olivia Lopez: I live and breath this bureaucracy. I share your frustration. I read Kafka to make myself feel better.
– Submitted by Frances H (2 years ago)
Nona: Change the school, you change the neighborhood.
– Submitted by Frances H (2 years ago)
Principal Thompson: This is a new day and we will take back our public schools.
– Submitted by Frances H (2 years ago)
Nona Alberts: Dare to think!
– Submitted by Emmet S (3 years ago)

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