Lean on Me is a movie about making a difference in a one of those inner city high school plagued with low test scores, gangs and drugs, but with an aspect that manages to make it actually interesting: It’s based on actual, controversial methods used by the principal Joe Louis Clark in order to restore the order to the rogue school.
And those methods are harsh; students are thrown out of the school and the teachers suspended as Clark leaves no stone unturned to make sure the majority of the students will pass the minimum basic skills test by the end of the semester. This setup leaves a lot of food for thought for the viewer who may not appreciate the methods, but can’t help but admire the results.
Lean on Me is not devoid of uninspired moments of holding hands and singing together typical to the sub-genre, but luckily does not wander off to the that cringeworthy valley where the street wise students would go on to teach the principle to rap or breakdance. True to the real life events, the Morgan Freeman’s portrayal of the principle remains a high authority, but also a father figure that many of the kids have very much lacked.