The Bottom Line: "Relax, cause I'm about to take my respect. I aimed the twelve gauge straight for his neck. Boo-yaa! boo-yaa! then I fade into the wind. 1-8-7 and it's on again." ~Snoop Dogg
This story has been told a hundred times; the dedicated teacher placed in a hostile environment that ends in a bad situation. In this story, Trevor Garfield, a science teacher, is at one of the worst high schools in New York. In his class, without his knowledge, is a student on a work release program. In other words, he either excels in school, doesn’t have to be brilliant but at least passing, or is returned to jail. He wasn’t the best student and in return Garfield flunked him. In retaliation, the student catches him in the hallway and stabs him repeatedly in the back with a homemade shiv.
Fast forward fifteen months and now Garfield has left the nastiness of New York behind him and joined the teaching grounds in Hollywood, expecting a better range of students. What he finds, instead, is another group of unruly students, many on the same type of work release programs, and a classroom and school out of control. Garfield does the only thing he can do and that is take back the classroom.
If you are expecting a reprisal of ‘Lean On Me’ or ‘The Ron Clark Story’, then kids you better look elsewhere because this is less than pretty. One again Garfield is faced with the 187 code, just like his students in NY gave him. In police lingo, that is the code for homicide and Garfield is again the target. And like I’ve always said, don’t trust those scientists, they are a crafty bunch.
Samuel L. Jackson immersed himself into the role of Trevor Garfield. He is, as always, given the opportunity to portray himself as an angry black man. It was a shame, really, because as a teacher, before the stabbing, he wanted nothing but to improve the lives of his students. After being stabbed, all was taken from him and he was now nothing but a shell.
John Heard had a simpy little part as a rather low-life teacher that carried a gun to school and didn’t mind romping in the corners with the female students. He’s the kind of guy that gives teachers a bad name. Kelly Rowan was a semi-love interest of Jackson but it never really took hold. In the end she becomes rather disillusioned about something that had meant a great deal to her, teaching.
The other prominent player, Garfield’s Hollywood nemesis, was Cesar, played by Clifton Collins, Jr., or Clifton Gonzalez Gonzalez as he’s billed in the movie. He was everything that Garfield was fighting to improve and, in the end, his greatest challenge.
All performances in the film were strong and directed. Each character was fleshed out and given his/her good and bad sides.
187 was directed by Kevin Reynolds, received no awards, and carries an R rating for violence, language, drug use and nudity. Writing credits go to Scott Yagemann, a real life teacher. You couldn’t pay me enough to be a teacher in today’s world.
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Susi Dawson (SusiDee34)
Live your life with the goal to 'pay it forward' and do one good thing for someone else
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After being felled by a vicious stabbing attack precipitated by failing a student, a determined Brooklyn high school science teacher heads west for a fresh start. But his new assignment--substitute relief in a gang-ridden school for a teacher on "stress leave"--proves even more exhausting, as his new pupils' resistance to his teaching soon provokes a potentially deadly desperation. Penned by first-timer Scott Yagemann, a seven-year veteran of the LA school system. "187" is California police code for murder.