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Laramie Movie Scope:
Dangerous Minds

Convincing performances in an unconvincing plot

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
[Strip of film rule]

October 2, 1995 -- ``Dangerous Minds'' is the latest pro-teacher film to come out of Hollywood using the formula perfected in ``Stand and Deliver'' eight years ago.

The film stars Michelle Pfeiffer as a recently divorced woman, LouAnne Johnson, who gets pressed into service as a teacher despite the fact that she has no previous experience or even a teaching certificate.

Pfeiffer, an extremely unlikely ex-Marine, soon has her unruly class whipped into shape. She uses an unlikely combination of bribery (candy bars and amusement rides) and psychology. The candy bars and amusement rides would be a more believable bribe for first-graders than it would be for the supposedly hardened inner city high school kids in the film.

As you can probably tell from the above, the film is not very believable, even though it was based on a true story (it was based on the book ``My Posse Don't Do Homework,'' by LouAnne Johnson).

There are some good things about the film, however. For one thing, the acting is very good. Pfeiffer makes the most of a showy role. She's as good in this film as anything else I've seen her in. George Dzundza, who plays fellow teacher Hal Griffith also turns in a good solid performance. The actors who play the kids are also very effective. Director John N. Smith and the actors somehow manage to make some of the dramatic moments in the film work despite the story's lack of believability.

The movie soundtrack is also quite good, especially ``Gangsta Paradise,'' which is a rap version the classic Stevie Wonder song ``Pastime Paradise.'' Wonder co-wrote the new version of the song, along with Artis Ivey, Doug Rasheed and Lawrence Sanders.

It is a mixed bag of a film with convincing performances in an unconvincing plot. It is no ``Stand and Deliver,'' but it's not a total loss. I give it a C.

Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)