V.A. Musetto reviews ‘Won’t Back Down’

“Won’t Back Down”: Three name changes later, this controversial piece of propaganda is finally reaching theaters. Call it what you may, it’s a failure. Maggie Gyllenhall and Viola Davis star as single moms, one a teacher, who want to change their kids’ failing elementary public school in Pittsburgh into a charter school staffed by non-union teachers. It was shown at the Democratic and Republican conventions and, not surprisingly, has incurred the wrath of teachers’ unions, which are depicted as villains. Its financial backers include right-wing billionaire Philip Anschutz. Director Daniel Barnz makes little attempt to hide his movie’s union-bashing agenda. The union is depicted as a bunch of corrupt bureaucrats concerned only with saving their jobs while the crusading parents come off as righteous folk heroes. The parents’ victory is never in doubt and the rah-rah finale plays like something from an old Frank Capra movie. For what it’s worth, there were several loud boos at the end of a promotional screening in New York Monday night.

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