Lean on Me (1989)
Lean on Me is a 1989 American biographical drama film written by Michael Schiffer, directed by John G. Avildsen and starring Morgan Freeman. Lean on Me is loosely based on the story of Joe Louis Clark, a real life inner city high school principal in Paterson, New Jersey, whose school is at risk of being taken over by the New Jersey state government unless students improve their test scores on the New Jersey Minimum Basic Skills Test.
The dedicated but tyrannical Joe Clark is appointed the principal of a decaying inner-city school and he is determined to improve by any and all means.
Why It Rocks
- It stay’s very true to the real-life event of Principal Joe Clark trying to improve an inner city school that went downhill in order for the students to have a bright and wonderful future ahead of them.
- The acting is amazing and spot-on, especially from Morgan Freeman as Joe Clark.
- Awesome character development, especially from the students at East Side High School as Principal Clark starts to take over the school.
- There are some very powerful, memorable and awesome moments throughout the movie, like the ending scene where all the East Side High students protest to free Mr. Clark from jail.
- Interesting and relatable characters, like the students and their everyday struggles (such as one particular girl named Kenisha).
- Great casting choices for all of the characters.
- The scene where the entire school sings “Lean on Me” (by the late Bill Withers) is one of the best and most powerful parts of the movie.
- A spectacular ending, Principal Clark gets out of jail, East Side High passes the exam and the woman that tried to take down Mr. Clark fails miserably.
- Mr. Clark can get awfully strict and bad-tempered in many moments of the film.
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 69%, based on 16 reviews, with an average rating of 5.8/10. On CinemaScore, audiences gave the film a rare grade of "A+" on an A+ to F scale.