Time Out says
Woodrow Wilson High in Long Beach is a recently desegregated school in which the predominantly white honours students have been forced to mix with the local blacks, Latinos and Asians. Gruwell (affectionately dubbed ‘Miss G’ by her class) soon realises that imbedded racial tension is disrupting the learning process at all levels and (surprise, surprise) it falls to her to impose some radical methods to get these kids into higher education.
Hats off to the ever-reliable Swank, who invests Gruwell with a goofy charm as she naively tries to connect with her students by basing poetry classes on Tupac lyrics and clumsily drops phrases like ‘What’s the dealio?’ There’s also a great turn from Imelda Staunton as the officious deputy head constantly on hand with her trusty, stifling rule book.
However, the well-worn themes of the importance of learning and dignity of social acceptance anchor the film in the familiar bracket of Capra-esque fluff. The story, too, wins no points for originality (see ‘Goodbye, Mr. Chips’ through to ‘Dangerous Minds’) with Gruwell’s dedication to her job leaving you in two minds whether to weep or gag. Often, you’ll want to do both.
Cast and crew
April Lee Hernandez