Movie #145 2020: Dangerous Minds (1995)

Before we get into the plot summary of Dangerous Minds, here’s a short anecdote.

When I sat down to watch a movie on the last day of April 2020, it was my girlfriend’s turn to choose. She said she’d seen the movie before, and it did reek of ‘white saviour’, but it was a wholesome, feel-good movie and she’d be happy to watch it again.

Surprisingly, I agreed to it.

We sat through the movie and experienced the full range of emotions that it intended. Then, fifteen minutes before the movie ended, my girlfriend turned to me and said ”is there much longer left? The things that I remember happening in this movie haven’t even happened yet.”

I paused the film. ”There’s only fifteen minutes left to go,” I said, confused.

She looked at me, with a blank, deadpan expression. ”I’ve never seen this movie before”.

Turns out, she was thinking of a completely different white saviour film starring Hillary Swank, named Freedom Writers. That’s right, we got to the very end of the movie before she realised that it was a completely different thing entirely. However, it’s the same kettle of fish, cut from the same cloth etc, so I can’t blame her.

Dangerous Minds follows Michelle Pfeiffer‘s Louanne (the name of the author of the true story book that this is based on) into a new teaching job, where she gets put in front of a class of ‘troubled’ kids. One thing leads to another, and everyone is better off by the end of it.

In short, my girlfriend was right: this is a feel good movie. Unfortunately, she was also right about the white saviour stuff too. However, the whole thing is just so wholesome that you can’t help but smile about it. Anyone saying “what’s the point in her being a marine?” should know that the original writer was a marine so… that’s that on that. And although I’m sure the writers of the movie undoubtedly played up the white saviour parts, the movie is based on an autobiography, so the saviour aspect is difficult to take offence to because of its roots in truth.

Michelle Pfeiffer herself is the queen of all the realms, so I’m not sure why people say she gave a poor performance here. It’s no Catwoman, of course, but what is? Some of the other actors left a lot to be desired though, and without Pfeiffer, the film would have probably been a train wreck.

Sadly, the ending is poor and it just stops suddenly. I personally wish there was more of a conclusion if I’m honest, because there’s nothing worse than a bad ending. It’s not a long film so there’s not much need to edit anything out either; I guess this was an oversight on the part of the writers. 

As a whole, this movie is nothing but enjoyable. Is it good enough to win any major awards? No. I doubt I’ll be going around telling everyone it was a great movie either because obviously there were problematic things about it… But it was perfectly average and left me feeling happier by its conclusion.

Dangerous Minds is available to stream on Now TV and Sky Cinema in the UK.

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2 Comments

  1. I prefer Freedom Writers but Dangerous Minds is a passable classroom story based on fact. Michelle Pfeiffer is brilliant, but for me there wasn’t enough heart or emotional impact. I enjoyed your review!

    Like

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