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Dangerous Minds

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Dangerous Minds

Starring: Michelle Pfeiffer, George Dzundza
Director: John N. Smith
Rated: R
RunTime: 99 Minutes
Release Date: August 1995
Genre: Drama

*Also starring: Robin Bartlett, Austin Pendleton, Courtney B. Vance, Renoly Santiago, Wade Dominguez, Bruklin Harris, Beatrice Winde, Lorraine Toussaint

Review by Andrew Hicks
3 stars out of 4

The Movie Critic at LARGE in me found a lot wrong with this movie, but the idiot moviegoer in me liked it anyway. It was predictable, shallow and uneven, but I like that Michelle Pfeiffer, even if she was horribly miscast in the role of a tough teacher who wins over a class of gangstas. DANGEROUS MINDS never goes into the deep, poignant drama you'd expect, but instead has a lot of humorous and manufactured "touching" moments, which the idiot moviegoer fell for hook, line and sinker.

Michelle Pfeiffer arrives for her new job teaching an English class for "special" students to find out they're not the geniuses she hoped they'd be but rather the exact same class from SISTER ACT 2 (Or didn't you notice?) of aspiring rappers, pregnant girls and sleepers, a real public high school cross-section.

Still, she determines to make them learn by taking them all to the amusement park (What better place to learn about Shakespeare, right? "Forsooth! Methinks I see The Nauseator up ahead forwith. I will tame the savage beast or spew out chasms of chunder for a fortnight in the attempt! Zounds!") and giving out candy bars to students with correct answers. No teacher I've ever had has gone that far to encourage learning, although my third grade teacher used to buy those packages of stale wafer-thin butter cookies that come in boxes of 300 and sit in the factory until all hint of freshness and taste is sucked out, then sit on the supermarket shelf another few months and years until some woman on a teacher's salary comes in and decides she's gonna get her kids to learn even if it means spending that 99 cents on the 300 cookies. And it worked because, hey, we were kids, what did we know?

So slowly Pfeiffer's students warm up to the bribes and get high on learning (higher learning, right? Wrong! Different movie!), as we all knew they would. And then, about three-fourths of the way through, when it seems like all is going right for Michelle and her young charges, we get the age-old contrived conflict, just as we knew we would. Here, one of the students is needlessly axed just to further the plot and teach a valuable lesson--always remember to knock. If you've seen the movie, you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't, that leaves the other option.

Surely from reading this review, you see the myriad flaws both with DANGEROUS MINDS and my writing (I'm asking you to ignore the flaws in the writing.), but perhaps you'll see the movie anyway and fall prey, as I did, to the false sentiment and manufactured poignancy. I saw right through many other recent bad dramas along these lines (WITH HONORS, THE PROFESSIONAL) but DANGEROUS MINDS somehow got to me. I guess it's dangerous to let a movie like that get into your mind, but oh well.

Copyright 1996 Andrew Hicks

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