If the story of Freedom Writers seems familiar it maybe because you read true story of Erin Gruwell, a newbie teacher from a wealthy family who chose to work with inner city school kids in Los Angeles. After a rough start she finally got through to the kids by encouraging them to keep journals of their life experiences. These diaries gave the students a voice to express their inner most feelings and gave Gruwell insight into their needs. Using the knowledge gathered from the diaries she tailored a set of courses for the kids that inspired many of them to quit gang life and become productive members of society.
It might also sound familiar to you because we’ve seen lots of inspirational teacher movies—Dangerous Minds and Coach Carter (which managed to be an inspirational teacher and coach movie in one) come to mind—that have essentially the same plot.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Hollywood movies tend to self-plagiarize quite successfully, changing the odd detail here and there, to create something new that seems somehow familiar.
Freedom Writers isn’t a bad movie, it just isn’t as memorable or important as the filmmakers would like to have us believe. It has some moments that resonate, a few good performances and a good message, but those qualities are wrapped up in such a standard packaging that the movie has little impact.