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Maggie Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Oscar Isaac, Holly Hunter, Rosie Perez ... see more see more... , Emily Alyn Lind , Dante Brown , Lance Reddick , Ving Rhames , Bill Nunn , Ned Eisenberg , Marianne Jean-Baptiste , Liza Colon-Zayas , Nancy Bach , Keith Flippen , Robert Haley , Lucia Forte , Sarab Kamoo , Teri Clark Linden , Joe Coyle , Jennifer Massey , Jane Mowder , Reavis Graham , Anthony Marino Jr. , Richard Barlow , Rebecca Harris , Kevin Jiggets , Patricia Cray , Juan Veza , Franklin Ojeda Smith , Sara Lindsey , Sue Jin Song , Ted Russell , Carmella Gioio , Kurt Yue , Gabrielle McClinton , Elisa Perry , Dionne Audain , Becky Meister , Toni Romano , Stephen Weigand , Landri Shannan , Paige Nelson , Kyler Norton , Jack Walz , Ivanna Eubanks , Rick Applegate , Julius Tennon

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 bureau... read more read more...cracy, 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. -- (C) 20th Century Fox

Flixster Users

62% liked it

18,047 ratings


33% liked it

98 critics

PG, 2 hr. 1 min.

Directed by: Daniel Barnz

Release Date: September 28, 2012

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DVD Release Date: January 15, 2013

Stats: 572 reviews


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Flixster Reviews (572)

  • March 3, 2014
    3 3/4's--Very inspirational, and heartwarming. Made-for-tvish. A sad statement on the condition of the American education system, but depicts a good step for improvement. Well acted. Nicely done..
  • January 14, 2014
    It's a film with a big heart, but it's just so schlocky... Maggie Gyllenhaal plays essentially the same role she did in Crazy Heart, and the supporting ensemble does alright, but as a whole the project is sentimentally overwrought and occasionally veers into Lifetime territory. I... read more appreciate the value of the story, but it's just not much of a movie... "fighting the system" has become a predictable formula, and this particular film does nothing others haven't done already.
  • fb100000145236770
    January 26, 2013
    "Won't Back Down" is a movie about two mothers(Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis) who are fed up with their children's failing school. They decide to risk everything to make a difference by going against the teacher unions and set out to do a school take over with the other pare... read morents and change things for the better for the kids. It's an inspirational movie, even though it runs a tad long and some of the background plot doesn't really go anywhere and just bogs the movie down some. Gyllenhaal does ok, but Viola Davis is fantastic. She is one of the best actresses today without a doubt. Whether your for or against unions it doesn't matter, because this movie is about making a difference for children. Emily liked and it made it all the way through, so if that happens I can almost guarantee all women will like it. Guys, probably not, but it's okay for a one time watch.
  • fb7817787
    February 27, 2013
    Won't Back Down is a prime example of a movie that suffers from a weak script and average direction, but is saved by excellent and noteworthy performances. Having grand aspirations regarding the failing education system in urban public schools, it ultimately gives no solid solut... read moreions and overgeneralizes the myriad problems regarding said topic. Quite obviously, the movie leans heavily toward the right politically. (Damn those corrupt Teacher's Unions! If only everything ran like a business! That would fix urban blight!) Nevertheless, the performances given by Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal and the supporting cast keep the whole venture afloat. And it holds together better than "white savior" schlock like The Help. But when compared to other movies in its particular sub-genre such as Stand and Deliver and Lean on Me, or when its message is seriously analyzed, it doesn't quite make the grade.
  • fb1025970122
    January 22, 2013
    I somewhat expected to be let down by the Viola Davis/Maggie Gyllenhaal vehicle that seemed to be purely inspirational for the purposes of honorable performances hoping to get noticed by Oscar. Though Won't Back Down is anything but subtle about its purpose and wears its heart on... read more its sleeve proudly, it isn't anywhere near deserving of the fate it suffered at the box office. In fact, it is a rather affirming film that succeeds in large part to its strong lead performances that aren't as showy or as cheesy as I expected. Though Gyllenhaal certainly has the flashier role, she is able to subdue much of the typical aspects of what one might expect from her type of character by allowing the most important factor to never be forgotten, that she is in fact a mother first. Letting that sink in allows us to go along with the story written and directed by Daniel Barnz (who's had similar failure with Beastly) but knows as a writer how to navigate his way through a ton of information and streamline it into what the audience needs to grasp in order to maintain the main points of the story. He does that well here considering the difficult processes and massive amount of details likely required to do what these women decide to take on. The negative aspect to this though is his inability to pace his final product better. By the time we get to the halfway mark it feels like it should be drawing to a close. Viola Davis displays her strong instincts here but adds layers of uncertainty and regret for good measure. Despite glancing at my watch a few times throughout I still rather enjoyed the film for what it was and what it was trying to say. There is also the charming supporting cast that features Oscar Isaac and Rosie Perez that add nothing if not a little forgiveness for the overall films shortcomings.
  • January 7, 2014
    omg! I think the movie Won't Back Down is about my childhood in first grade.. the kids are so nasty to this one girl and the teacher is such a bitch and told the girl to stop being such a drama queen when she started to cry cause the kids were picking on her, it brought back the ... read morememory of when my kids were doing that to me and the teacher yelled at me saying everything is not something to cry about ans the principal in the film is an ass to he won't do anything about the teacher or the students just like the principal when I was a kid and now the mother couldn't get the right teacher she requested for her daughter for the next grade!!!! The nice teacher in this film reminds me of my first fifth grade teacher who really cared about the students and was fired and that's what happened in this film too, but this movie has a happy ending cause the mother fought for her child and she was afraid to say she had learning difficulties when she was her daughter's age cause her school made her feel dumb ( and so did mine) but she is now realizing it seeing her daughter go through the same stuff that there needs to be something done about it and so she is and the lesson learned from this movie is that just because you have learning difficulties doesn't mean your dumb and you shouldn't allow people to walk all over you... but getting people to actually understand you and see your point is the hard part and sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn't.... when you see the young girl reading in front of people at the end of the movie shows acting is a great way to help express feeling and emotion and be able to get away from all that is going on in the real world and that's why i want to do it and another thing is that someday if I am ever lucky enough to have a kid which i don't think i will be I would want to do for my kid what Maggie Gyllenhal's character did for her kid in this movie and fight for him/her I kind of what do fight for kids now that are like me I hate when i read or hear on the news/newspapers that some kid/teenager has committed suicide or killed somebody cause nobody gave them the help they needed
  • October 12, 2013
    Seemed so long, drawn out, and boring for the most part. Was not clear on what they were trying to do until almost the end.
  • fb100000196560296
    July 5, 2013
    has a great message even though it feels like a lifetime movie at time and if your a parent put it on your must see list
  • fb677587177
    April 8, 2013
    There are about a million movies that are completely identical to this one, but that doesn't stop it from being good. Of course I'm a sucker for all those inspirational teacher movies, so I'm probably biased. But the acting is good, it's appropriate for people of all ages, and it... read more's really kind of refreshing to see a film about hope and change rather than death and destruction. I really enjoyed this.
  • February 2, 2013
    "Won't Back Down" is a true-story-inspired social drama played by duo actresses Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis... It is interesting to see how the movie turned out.

Critic Reviews

Bilge Ebiri
October 1, 2012
Bilge Ebiri, New York Magazine/Vulture

It mixes attempts at realism and grit with transparently Hollywoodized good guys-vs.-bad guys social melodrama. That requires a deft directorial hand, but director Daniel Barnz doesn't seem to have it. Full Review

Peter Rainer
September 28, 2012
Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor

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. Full Review

Bruce Demara
September 28, 2012
Bruce Demara, Toronto Star

Won't Back Down doesn't wholly make the grade. Full Review

Connie Ogle
September 28, 2012
Connie Ogle, Miami Herald

Americans desperately need to have some difficult conversations about the state of public education, but Won't Back Down goes about the task too awkwardly to be helpful or interesting. Full Review

Mick LaSalle
September 28, 2012
Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle

"Won't Back Down" details a bureaucratic process, and yet it plays more like an intense, emotional movie about parents and children. Full Review

Joe Williams
September 28, 2012
Joe Williams, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

While the cast is filled with award winners, writer-director Daniel Barnz is a dunce who can't construct an argument without employing flimsy logic and cardboard characters. Full Review

Ann Hornaday
September 28, 2012
Ann Hornaday, Washington Post

So didactic that viewers are likely to feel less uplifted than lectured. Full Review

Kyle Smith
September 28, 2012
Kyle Smith, New York Post

The film makes a serious effort to present the other side's points. Full Review

Tom Long
September 28, 2012
Tom Long, Detroit News

[Barns] pours on the corn syrup pretty heavy in parts and it's pretty obvious the film has a clear agenda ... Full Review

Liam Lacey
September 28, 2012
Liam Lacey, Globe and Mail

A drama that's as intellectually crude as it is emotionally calculated. Full Review

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    • Olivia Lopez: I live and breath this bureaucracy. I share your frustration. I read Kafka to make myself feel better.
    • Nona: Change the school, you change the neighborhood.
    • Principal Thompson: This is a new day and we will take back our public schools.
    • Nona Alberts: Dare to think!
    • Malia Fitzpatrick: Hope.
    • Jamie Fitzpatrick: You know those mothers that can lift 1-ton trucks? They're nothing compared to me.

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