Starring: Michelle Pfeiffer, George Dzundza, Courtney B. Vance
Director: John N. Smith
Running Time: 99 mins
Dangerous Minds is an American film about a former US Marine who takes up a teaching position at an inner city school, taking care of a class of students suffering in a poverty-stricken climate.
This is a fantastic film. With a staggering lead performance from Michelle Pfeiffer, captivating supporting turns across the board, and a deeply emotional but still gritty and above all uncompromising story, Dangerous Minds is a thrilling and enthralling watch from start to finish.
Well-known for featuring the song Gangster’s Paradise in its soundtrack, Dangerous Minds is more than just an iconic bit of ’90s pop culture, blending harsh, real-world drama with appealing and often uplifting storytelling, delivering a thoroughly captivating watch that’s just as enjoyable to watch as it is often challenging.
On the brighter side of things, Michelle Pfeiffer is amazing in the lead role, with a hard-as-nails performance as a former Marine-turned-teacher, but with the right amount of charisma to make her character an endearing and wonderfully caring personality at the centre of a tough situation.
Her determination in pushing the boundaries of an otherwise apathetic schooling system is admirable to say the least, while her genuine care for her students both in and out of class is hugely inspiring, as she does everything to give them the best opportunities for their lives ahead, no matter what it takes.
Pfeiffer’s fantastic leading performance would be nothing without excellent turns from her co-stars, playing her students, with the likes of Renoly Santiago, Wade Dominguez and Lorraine Toussaint in particular giving outstanding performances that bring further gravitas to this story.
Because at the outset, Dangerous Minds could have been a rather superficial, Mary Poppins-esque story about a woman who swoops in and sorts everything out without even the slightest bit of conflict. However, while Pfeiffer’s determination is fantastic, the pushback from her students is what makes her task so challenging.
Centring on a class afflicted by a variety of problems typical of a deprived inner-city area, Dangerous Minds doesn’t shy away from showing the harshest side of reality, with an uncompromising view of the true challenges students face on a day-to-day basis, and how the response from their school can in some cases make or break their entire course in life.
That focus on the gritty reality of life brings Dangerous Minds more in line with the likes of Rebel Without A Cause, not only emblematic of its time period from a pop culture perspective, but also a real portrayal of the challenges faced by real people.
However, thanks to the film’s determination in showing how there is always a silver lining to be found even in the harshest of situations, Dangerous Minds proves a thoroughly captivating and ultimately inspiring film, and one that’s never less than 100% genuine in its message throughout. So, that’s why I’m giving the film an 8.1 overall.