Won’t Back Down Parent’s Guide

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Won't Back Down Parent's Guide

Title: Won’t Back Down
Rated: PG
Studio: 20th Century Fox

Release date: 9/28/2012

Actors: Viola Davis, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Oscar Issac, Holly Hunter


If you can’t beat the system… change it.

Oscar Nominees Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis lead a stellar cast in this empowering drama inspired by actual events. Hard-working single mom Jamie Fitzpatrick (Gyllenhaal) is concerned that John Adams Elementary is letting her daughter down. Teaming with a caring teacher (Davis) who wants the best future for her own son, she sets out to improve attitudes and elevate the school’s academic standards. Despite the odds, with courage, hope and persistence, the women just might prevail in this uplifting film that also stars Rosie Perez and Academy Award Winner Holly Hunter.


Deleted Scenes With Director’s Commentary

A Tribute To Teachers

The Importance Of Education

Audio Commentary With Director Daniel Barns

  • Language
  • Violence
  • Sex
  • Quality


Mommy Bear's Parent Review of Won’t Back Down


A little girl is bullied, with another girl pulling on her backpack until it tears and breaks.

Sexual Content

A woman tells a man that he has a nice rear end (he’s wearing jeans) and later calls him “Sexy Texy” They kiss on their first date (he’s a little drunk), but no sexuality is implied. A woman wears a tank top in a few scenes, revealing a bit of cleavage.


A couple of mild profanities, but overall foul language is not an issue in this film. 


Frustrated with their children’s failing inner-city school, two mothers (Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal) join forces with committed teachers to make a difference, despite enormous obstacles and opposition.

Pros and Cons

A thoughtful examination of America’s troubled public school system, Won’t Back Down is emotionally gripping and more balanced in examining multiple sides of the issue than some critics are stating. While it does take lazy teachers and corrupt unions to the mat, it also demonstrates the positive difference that good teachers make in children’s lives and acknowledges the beneficial role unions can play. The performances by the leads are terrific and the film is emotionally engaging throughout. It occasionally gets too preachy, and some of the peripheral characters come across as one-dimensional villains, but overall this is a rousing drama about real-world issues.

Discussion Points

You can accomplish great things if you don’t give up when it gets hard. People with learning disabilities deserve understanding, not denigration. Few things are of greater value than knowledge and education.

Written by Jonathan Decker
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