Stand and Deliver
What parents need to know
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?