‘Won’t Back Down’ takes on teacher’s unions, failing schools

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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The controversial new film “Won’t Back Down” opens today in 2,005 theaters across the nation, and in preparation, I caught up with Chip Flaherty, one of the co-founders of Walden Media, the film’s production company.

“At its heart, it’s a great underdog story, where two women … one a single mom (Maggie Gyllenhaal), one a teacher (Viola Davis) — get together and they turn around a failing school system,” Flaherty said of the film inspired by true events. “At its heart, it’s one of those great underdog stories like ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ or the ‘Rocky’ movies.”

If you’re surprised that Hollywood is actually churning out a serious, positive film — that is getting a nationwide release — there are a few reasons. First, Walden specifically works to bring positive films to wider audiences. Second, the school choice movement seem to transcend the typical left/right paradigm.

Flaherty says the school choice issue is “almost like a little Switzerland,” where Democrats and Republicans — almost everyone — can agree.

Everyone — that is — except the teacher’s unions.

As Mary Katharine Ham notes over at HotAir, the stars of the film are under attack from the teacher’s unions, who have launched protests. So far, though, the stars seem to be hanging tough. (Flaherty reminds me that this is an issue near and dear to Viola Davis’s heart; her sister teaches at Central Falls charter school in Rhode Island.)

It is terrific to see a positive film that also features A-list actors. It’s also great to see these actors are signaling they won’t back down either.

Listen to streaming audio of my full conversation with Chip Flaherty. Or download the podcast on iTunes.