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What's the story?
Set in the 1950s, SCHOOL TIES centers on high school quarterback David Greene (Brendan Fraser), who gets the opportunity to move up from his working class life when he gets a scholarship to an upper-crust prep school. There's just one catch: The school administrators ask David to hide the fact that he's Jewish. David makes a name for himself on the football field, and he makes friends, but everything changes when envious classmate Charlie (Matt Damon) uncovers David's secret.
Is it any good?
School Ties is a stirring movie with an important message about tolerance and fitting in. Bigotry is exposed as a manifestation of ignorance and cowardice. Brendan Fraser leads a superb cast that includes Matt Damon, Chris O'Donnell, and Ben Affleck. If there is a weakness here, it's in the recycling of story elements. The movie feels similar to other prep school dramas (such as Dead Poets Society) in which the worldview of sheltered schoolboys is challenged, but to its credit, it's not a simple good vs. evil story. It tries to balance the anti-racist tag slapped on the prep-school boys with an understanding of the tremendous pressure placed on them (especially in the 1950s) to become carbon copies of their parents.
While it may sympathize, the movie never excuses the boys' racist behavior. One twelve-year-old viewer thought that the "rich kids were just snobs" and that Fraser's character should have been upfront about being Jewish--whether people liked it or not. The youngster picked up on one of the movie's less obvious morals: as abhorrent as anti-Semitism is, hiding who you are because of a desire to fit it isn't wholly admirable either.
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