While about the only inner city experience I had was working in Buffalo for a couple of months, I did enjoy this movie. If you didn't catch it in the opening, it is based on a true story, and that in and of itself is an awesome testimony of hope. I think that Louanne Johnson would ask for no sympathy being a former Marine. I remember seeing this movie the year after I graduated and enjoying the song, "Gangsta's Paradise" by rapper, Coolio. It was a major status symbol that made this movie great. That was almost 10 years ago. Today, I find myself having a major problem with that song. Listen to the lyrics closely enough, and it appears that Coolio is plain feeling sorry for himself, bathing himself in self pity. That, in my opinion, contradicts the movie by saying, "I am nothing more than a victim of circumstances." Boo-hoo-hoo!! I don't know how many jobs I've been fired from, only to dust myself off and get another one. You are only a victim if you make yourself a victim.
Michelle Pfeiffer played an awesome role, the encourager. You take a close look at the role of Courtney Vance as the principal, the one who wants you to knock before entering and you can't help but ask a simple question, "Is he a prick, or a piller of society?" He almost falls into a neutral category for me because of who he is, and his definition of tough love is not something everyone agrees with. It isn't everyday I'd give a movie of this nature a 5 star, but it is an exception.