Parents' Guide to

Dangerous Minds

By Brian Costello, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Cliches, stereotypes, mixed messages in '90s school drama.

Movie R 1995 99 minutes
Dangerous Minds Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 1 parent review

age 12+

Mostly watch out for the language.

Excellent movie. Cool soundtrack. I believe that it is harmless. I would reccomend it for you 12 year old. I don't believe the R rating. There is only language including the ''N'' word (If your child does not know of the word I would say it would be okay, just make sure they don't repeat it!), a few kisses, a bit of sexual innuendo and some smoking. So, please do watch it with your 12 year old.
1 person found this helpful.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (1):
Kids say: Not yet rated

While a true story, this movie hasn't aged well wasn't a particularly original premise to begin with, as part of the "inspiring teacher inspires uninspired students to be inspired learners" genre. While Dangerous Minds addresses topics like poverty, bureaucratic neglect in the education of children of color from low-income backgrounds, teen pregnancy, gangs, and abuse, these attempts to show what the students contend with is offset with a lot of "you don't understand me!" dialogue that's an obligatory part of trite teen movies, no matter the situation or circumstance. There's also a "white savior narrative" trope, and while they do attempt to address this in one scene, it doesn't really counter how the trope plays out in the rest of the paint-by-numbers Hollywood script structure.

Furthermore, the attempts to counter systemic racism in the story are offset by a racism seemingly borne out of '90s focus groups. According to Roger Ebert, in My Posse Don't Do Homework, the nonfiction book upon which Dangerous Minds is based, Johnson didn't use Bob Dylan lyrics and Dylan Thomas poetry to better relate to the students -- she used hip-hop lyrics. It isn't difficult to theorize as to why the filmmakers made that change. Choices like these drive the point home that while there's no doubt a unique and inspiring story is lurking at the core of Dangerous Minds, that story gets lost in a dumbing-down whitewash that is Hollywood at its worst.

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