The comparison between Michelle Pfeiffer's ex-marine turned teacher movie and Hilary Swank's teacher movie (Dangerous Minds, Freedom Writers) are unavoidable.
Yet there is something strangely touching about these real life stores of white teachers in good-schools-gone-bad due to integration and busing kids in from the ghetto.
In fact, it's not even that different than the type of sports movies that are frequently recycled including the MTV film Coach Carter which came out a little over a year ago.
These stories are touching and people generally like the inspirational teacher drama (unless it's on the artsy or complicated like Half Nelson was last year). Yet I can't help watching one of these MTV films (whether it be Freedom Writers, Coach Carter, or Save The Last Dance) and think "These are films about diversity made for rich white teens so they can watch something moving about inequality and feel like they care."
Maybe it's all part of inspiration overload, but the real life story of people like Erin Gruwell (Swank) in Freedom Writers, or Louanne Johnson (Pfeiffer) in Dangerous Minds are moving and touching (my wife was crying at many points in the film). Yet the stories are becoming overplayed. Perhaps that's how Dangerous Minds made almost three times in theaters what Freedom Writers made.
The story is overplayed, and yet I think Hollywood still wants to inspire us with real life stories about people who make a difference, and with hard work and persistence take on diversity, adversity, and social issues.
I think that's why the story of Luma Muflah created such a stir in Hollywood as companies competed to buy the life story of a woman who fought to let Refugees play soccer in Atlanta. It combines Coach Carter and Freedom Writers and the increasing collection of soccer movies out there (Kicking and Screaming, Gracie, Bend it Like Beckham, She's the Man, Goal!). Muflah's story is just a little bit different and tells the inspirational story Hollywood wants to tell.
Related Tags: Dangerous Minds, Freedom Writers, Michelle Pfieffer, Hilary Swank, Louanne Johnson, Erin Gruwell, MTV, Diversity, Education, Luma Muflah, Film