Anthony's Film Review
Dangerous Minds (1995)
A promising story about public high school with mediocre execution...
There's nothing wrong about the premise of Dangerous Minds. One of the greatest ironies of some developed societies is how people may waste the educational opportunities that are given to them. Public school, especially high school, has become more of a social club and less of an institution for learning. Sadly, the worst high schools are infested with gangster youth.
Dangerous Minds centers on Michelle Pfeiffer as Louanne Johnson, an ex-marine turned high school teacher. She is just the type of character to deal with these degenerate youth, whom she refers to as "rejects from hell." At one point, one student tries to attack her, but she successfully fends off the blow.
For a while, the plot seems to head in an interesting direction. Louanne resorts to unconventional means to get her students to learn. Instead of strict discipline, she takes advantage of positive reinforcement with rewards. For instance, she offers a prize for doing a homework assignment. The students may only be studying for the reward, but who knows if they will ultimately see the value of education.
The main problem for me was that I expected to be moved by the story. In the end, I like the story enough, but its emotional impact was minimal and did not mentally stick. If, however, the students turned their lives around a full 180 degrees, that would be something. Instead, they look like they've turned into the right direction but without going too far forward.
Dangerous Minds is notable, though, for a memorable song on its soundtrack. "Gangsta's Paradise," performed by rapper Coolio, is not a glorification of the gangster life but a commentary about being stuck in it for so long that not even an education could change that. It's a catchy tune if you hear the lyrics together with the background beats. Perhaps the movie would be better if it followed the song more closely and perhaps include the song more in the film. Overall, Dangerous Minds is a promising movie that falls short.
For more information about Dangerous Minds, visit the Internet Movie Database.