Crazy Awesome Teachers

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
Crazy Awesome Teachers Movie Poster Image
Quirky but so-so Indonesian dramedy has some violence.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 101 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The meaning of success differs for everyone. You may think you desire money when what you really desire is respect and meaning in your life. Words are powerful; choose them wisely.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Taat boasts that he loves money, then tries to lie his way into a substitute teaching job. Eventually he appreciates the teachers' sacrifices and leaves his dishonest ways behind.  

Violence

Thieves steal a village school's cash payroll. Teachers, devastated about losing their pay, bravely investigate and learn that a violent gang of criminals took the money. When the teachers steal it back, their lives are threatened. A man is killed with a knife off-camera by a cruel gang leader. The gang leader smashes the hands of two inept gang members, threatening to kill their families if they don't find some stolen money.  

Sex
Language

"Fatso," "wuss."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Two students write a report about the history of marijuana that alarms parents at first until they learn it's a serious look at the negative effects of drugs on societies.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Crazy Awesome Teachers is a quirky Indonesian comedy with a heart. The lead character is something of a smooth-talking con artist who tries to borrow money from strangers and scam people, but he somehow finds scruples and a purpose in life when he returns to his small village where his dad is a respected teacher. Violence is largely comic, although younger kids may worry when a gang leader threatens to kill kidnap victims. A man is killed with a knife off-camera by a cruel gang leader. Language includes "fatso" and "wuss." Two students write a report about the history of marijuana that alarms parents at first until they learn it's a serious look at the negative effects of drugs on societies.

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What's the story?

In CRAZY AWESOME TEACHERS, fast-talking Taat (Gading Marten) was an indifferent high school student, the wayward son of a much-respected high school teacher named Purnama (Arswendi Bening Swara). Taat left their Indonesian village to seek his fortune in the big city, disdaining his father's low-paying work and ethical ways. Years later, Taat returns broke, looking for money to buy his way into a cruise ship job. In the interim, he takes a job as a substitute teacher at his alma mater, where Purnama, nearing retirement, still teaches. Taat swaggers in with a fake diploma and a jokey attitude, intending to work as little as possible. When the payroll is stolen before the teachers are paid, Taat enlists faculty members to help him track down the thieves and recover their money. He seems to bond with several teachers in this group effort but, at first opportunity, he tries to steal the money for himself. In the meantime, the faculty has been kidnapped and threatened with death by Pak Le (Kiki Narendra), a brutal gang leader. Will Taat do the right thing and be able to save the day?

Is it any good?

This movie tries to make up in good intentions for a fairly listless comic tone. Marten works hard to make Taat a likable and clever character, but the effort is a strain and largely unsuccessful. Even when he turns out to have a good heart and to embrace decency, little we see on screen makes that monumental transition believable. An attractive, by-the-book administrator named Rahayu (Faradina Mufti) catches Taat's eye, but the underdeveloped character is given little to do, to the degree that the movie would scarcely be damaged by her complete disappearance.

Note that publicity for Crazy Awesome Teachers claims that Taat discovers the joys of teaching. That may be, but we never actually see that development occur, violating the first rule of good storytelling: Show, don't tell.   

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how different people find meaning in their lives. What do you think changes Taat's mind about his values and goals in Crazy Awesome Teachers?

  • Taat seems to have rebelled against his father, a man who is kind and attentive to everyone but Taat. What do you think helps them turn their relationship around?

  • Taat says he loves money. What do you think the movie is trying to tell us about him with that information? Does the movie want us to like him? Why or why not?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love school stories

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