Does bringing a bat to school organize a school? I guess it does, in this movie.
When tough-talking principal Joe Clark (Morgan Freeman) takes over decaying Eastside High School, he’s faced with graffiti-covered walls and students wearing gang colors. But he’s determined to do anything in his power to turn the school around. He begins by expelling drug dealers and padlocking the doors to keep the riffraff out. But he also demands maximum effort from the students and staff inside in this uplifting drama based on a true story.
The whole story is very predictable, you can already tell where all of this is going to turn out. In ways that’s an OK thing, but at the same time, the film has two conflicting sides. The performance from Freeman vs. the story itself.
The performance from Morgan Freeman, is what really keeps this film’s on its toes. He is very strict, powerful, and he is very believable as this guy that just comes in, and takes over the place, leaving no prisoners.
However, questions are raised about him being very egotistical, and too much of an hard-ass. You can see times when they start to talk about this in the film, but never are the questions fully brought up, or even answered for that matter, and your disappointed cause you know that this guy, wasn’t the best person to keep everything in line. We never do see any actual learning going on as well. We just see Freeman yelling, and demanding, but never any of the actual learning.
Although the film may have its problems with the general message, it still does have a lot of powerful scenes. Mostly due to the fact, that Freeman goes for the gut in a lot of his scenes, but the scenes do get to the core of you, and you do have a good watch.
Consensus: Lean on Me is highly predictable, with too much questions unanswered, but Freeman’s performance, and a couple of moving scenes, make this one work.