Star Rating:

Freedom Writers

Director: Richard Lagravenese

Actors: Imelda Staunton

Release Date: Monday 30th November -0001

Genre(s): Drama

Running time: 123 minutes

What? No Coolio? The rapper might be missing from the soundtrack of Freedom Writers, but unfortunately that's the only difference between this and Dangerous Minds. Based on a true story, Freedom Writers (feat. LV) follows Swank's Erin Gruwell, a naive young teacher who has asked to be assigned to the war zone that is the Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach, LA, just after the riots following the Rodney King trial. Her class is full of gang members from the projects and she works hard to convert them, but it's only when that they tell her that they've never heard of the holocaust does Erin reach them on a personal level. Comparing their gangs to the Nazis, Erin produces The Diary Of Anne Frank to the class and encourages them to start their own diaries, which when published became The Freedom Writers Diary - the basis for this film. The biggest problem with Freedom Writers is that there are no surprises whatsoever: first come the jeers, then the tears, and finally the cheers. Because it's based on a true story, it's hard to be mean to the film: its heart is in the right place and the message they're conveying is only a good one. But like The Gridiron Gang it's too well meaning and self-righteous - like watching a long episode of 7th Heaven. Freedom Writers would fair better as a series - one school year in the life of these kids - but in squeezing all those characters and story into two hours, the turnaround happens all too quickly and everything feels glossed over.