A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The movie shows the benefits of students being given an environment in which to live up to their fullest potential. Believe in yourself. Don't give up. Work hard. Themes include curiosity, perseverance, integrity, and courage.
Positive Role Models
As a teacher, Jaime Escalante is a tough but fair and unquestionably dedicated teacher who works as hard as possible to ensure his students are successful in his classroom, and he goes to great lengths to show how the work the students do in class connects to their futures outside and beyond high school. He also has given up a relatively lucrative career in the computer industry to teach in a struggling inner-city high school. The students themselves rise above the challenges in their environments, neighborhoods, and family lives to succeed at calculus.
Violence & Scariness
Gangs threaten violence; a teacher pursues three kids through the school with chains. A fistfight. A teen throws a bottle at a window while leaning out the side of a car.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
The teacher makes comments about the attractiveness of female students and asks a female student if "intelligent people make better lovers." In another instance, he creates a story problem in which the students must figure out how many girlfriends each "gigolo" has. One girl has a reputation for being "easy," and in one scene the teacher engages in what would now be called "slut shaming"; while the student stands up for herself, the teacher makes no acknowledgement that what he said was inappropriate. A student makes a joke referencing bisexuals.
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Occasional profanity" "s--t" and "a--hole" along with various Spanish curse words. Use of the word "premature" from a high school administrator leads to a sex-related joke from a high school student.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults smoke cigarettes and drink beer.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Stand and Deliver is a 1988 movie based on the true story of an inspiring math teacher in a struggling inner-city Los Angeles high school who, through his hard work and tireless dedication, helps his students live up to their full potential and succeed at AP calculus. Gangs threaten violence, and there's a scene in which students are chased through the hallways of the school by someone trying to hit them with a chain. While the film shows what can be achieved when a tough but fair teacher brings out the best in his students -- students who are shown struggling with the difficulties of their neighborhoods, family life, and the pains of adolescence -- there are some scenes in which some of what the teacher says would be seen as inappropriate by today's standards, including a scene in which a girl with a reputation for being "easy" is slut-shamed by the teacher. While she does stand up for herself, the teacher experiences no repercussions for his remarks or even an awareness that what he said was highly inappropriate. There is also some profanity -- Spanish slang for "a--hole" and "fat girl" mixed in with English curse words. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This is a rare Hollywood feature that brings depth and dignity to its exploration of high school life. It's gritty and free of saccharine sentiment and Hollywood glitz. What makes it even more unusual is that much of their dialogue is delivered in Spanish (with meanings made clear for those who don't speak the language).
Stand and Deliver is anchored by Olmos' near-perfect Oscar-nominated performance. It's not easy to make calculus interesting and, as Escalante, Olmos lights a fire under his students. The greatest pleasure lies in watching his unlikely crew turn into a group of confident achievers. The film never falls into the trap of making these characters too good to be true. Escalante, while driven, neglects his family. His behavior in the classroom verges on sexist. He loses his temper and even makes academic mistakes. He is, in other words, completely human. His students, too, are all complex, realistic characters, with great stories to tell.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.