Stand and Deliver



Intensely watchable movie based on a true story.
  • Review Date: October 16, 2005
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1988
  • Running Time: 99 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

This film features complex, realistic Latino students -- and a teacher willing to believe in them (though he does make sexist comments). There's a lot of macho bravado in and out of the classroom. Parents undermine their kids' academic dreams. A teacher refuses to believe her students are capable of excellence.


Gangs threaten violence; a teacher pursues three kids through the school with chains.


The teacher occasionally talks about the attractiveness of female students. One girl has a reputation for being "easy."


Moderate to heavy swearing. Consistent with high school conversation, the s-word is sprinkled throughout.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this film deals with mature themes and language. Gangs that threaten violence, and a chain-wielding teacher pursues three kids through the school. There's a lot of macho bravado in and out of the classroom. Parents undermine their kids' academic dreams, and a teacher refuses to believe her underprivileged students are capable of excellence.

What's the story?

Based on the true story of a Los Angeles teacher who converted apathetic students into math stars, STAND AND DELIVER is full of Spanish (without subtitles), calculus, and inspiration. Jaime Escalante(Edward James Olmos) will do anything to coach his poor, Latino students through college-level math, even sneak out of his hospital bed to get back to work. Escalante quits his job at a software company to teach computer science in the barrio, only to discover that the school -- impoverished Garfield High -- lacks computers. Determined to turn around his students' lives, he begins by teaching algebra to remedial math students, and eventually shepherds them through a highly advanced course in calculus. Escalante and his students all make significant sacrifices to achieve academic honors. The teacher nearly kills himself with work and the students weather an unjustified cheating scandal. Eventually this group of ghetto youth prove they have the right stuff for college and beyond.

Is it any good?


Stand and Deliver 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).

The film is anchored by Olmos's 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.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the advantages and limitations of using movies to dramatize the real life events. Can movies tell the story in ways that other media, such as books or radio, can't? Where do they fall short? How much of a story can one tell in the timespan of the typical movie? Who decides what's left out or what's emphasized?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:March 11, 1988
DVD release date:May 18, 1999
Cast:Andy Garcia, Edward James Olmos, Lou Diamond Phillips
Director:Ramon Menendez
Studio:Warner Bros.
Topics:Misfits and underdogs, Numbers and letters
Run time:99 minutes
MPAA rating:PG

This review of Stand and Deliver was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 13 years old Written byAJ2222 May 14, 2011

R rated!

Should be rated R for language
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Teen, 14 years old Written byTotally500 April 18, 2011

Stand up for yourself and never give up

This is indeed a great film about math and how to succed in life when you have the desire to want to.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 17 years old Written byESA-TIGGER April 9, 2008




Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Special Needs Guide