Daniel Barnz’s “parent trigger” drama Won’t Back Down, which stars Viola Davis, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Holly Hunter, appears to be receiving a pretty cool response from critics, according to the movie’s score over at Rotten Tomatoes. The film explores so-called “parent trigger” laws, which allows parents to effect change in what they perceive to be a failing school system. However, critics have pointed out that picture ultimately does more to perpetuate myths than anything else.
From a cinematic standpoint, it would appear that stars Maggive Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis do little to keep the film’s premise afloat. “The question isn’t how such a ham-fisted, clichéd and, frankly, stupefyingly simple-minded film got made. The question is: How did it recruit such a talented cast into its union-bashing ranks?” Metro Times writer Jeff Meyers stated in his review.
A.O. Scott at the New York Times explained that the film’s political angle isn’t its biggest problem. “However you take its politics, the film upholds a dreary tradition of simplifying and sentimentalizing matters of serious social concern, and dumbing down issues that call for clarity and creative thinking,” he wrote.
The Christian Science Monitor film critic Peter Rainer, who described Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis’ performances as “terrific,” had far more positive things to say about the feature. “Hollywood has never been the best arena to hash out policy debates. But social-issue movies can have real societal impact. That’s why ‘Won’t Back Down,’ which presses a lot of hot buttons, deserves to be taken seriously, and criticized seriously, on its own terms,” he explained.
Won’t Back Down is officially described as follows:
“Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis play two determined mothers, one a teacher, who will stop at nothing to transform their children’s failing inner city school. Facing a powerful and entrenched bureaucracy, they risk everything to make a difference in the education and future of their children. This powerful story of parenthood, friendship and courage mirrors events that are making headlines daily.”
Although the reviews suggest that Won’t Back Down isn’t doing Maggive Gyllenhaal’s career any favors, the actress may rebound from this misstep with director Roland Emmerich’s upcoming actioner White House Down, which is slated to arrive in theaters on June 28, 2013.
What did you think of Maggie Gyllenhaal’s performance in Won’t Back Down?