Stand and Deliver (1988)


Continuing with education movies theme, I chose to watch this classic.  I vaguely recalled seeing parts of it before, but was unsure.  I proved myself correct.  All I could remember clearly was the the scene where Escalante comes face-to-face with the ETS investigators and argued why his students should not need to retake the exam when there is no definitive evidence of cheating.

As with the other “based on a true story” teaching movies, it is very motivational and inspirational, but from the perspective of a viewer who wants to be entertained, it could have been significantly better.  The movie was good solely because the actual story was so inspirational.  However, this was another case where so many scenes and segments seemed disjointed.  Without a clear direction of how to tell the success story, many sub-plots and undertones were severely under-developed.  The movie may have tried too hard to focus on every student’s story; the result is that it became hard to empathize with any single student’s trials and tribulations.  I thought the director would’ve made it easier on himself by focusing on the story from the teacher’s perspective, but he did not, or at least did not do a good job of that either.

One pleasant change from the majority of teaching films was that this movie focused on a mathematics teacher rather than an English or music teacher.  Furthermore, unlike other stories where students were only shown to pass according to the teacher’s standards, this movie was able to give perspective on their actual level of achievement because the students had to take the AP examination which is well-known and recognized.  Comparatively, in films like Freedom Writers, I can accept that the students are learning and appreciating class, but I have no tangible sense of their English ability in comparison to a typical high school freshman or sophomore.

Indeed an inspirational story, but shame on the film-makers for not making it into a truly unforgettable movie.  In another ten years, I will probably have forgotten everything except the scene of Mr. Escalante arguing with the ETS investigators again.  A story like this had so much more potential, and it was, by no means, fully achieved.


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