The movie “Won’t Back Down,” which stars Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis as reformers trying to battle education bureaucrats and teachers unions to help children, has irked progressive movie critics.
Reviewers have been dismissing the film as “propaganda,” trying to de-legitimize it by highlighting the fact that a conservative funded it.
In Time, Mary Polis mentions “Won’t Back Down” was produced by Walden Media and made her “annoyed.”
She writes, “the characterizations of the union bosses are absurd,” and one bad teacher is “so broadly sketched” she half expected the director to “cut to her pulling out a vibrator, just to bring it to full parody, Bad Teacher style.”
In the Los Angeles Times, reviewer Kenneth Turan calls the movie “mindless” and “shamelessly manipulative and hopelessly bogus.” He claims it “will make you bite your tongue in regret and despair.”
He also asserts the film has a "pernicious propagandistic bias” that is “irritating and misleading.”
At NPR, reviewer Ella Taylor writes, “for all its strenuous feints at fair play, though, ‘Won't Back Down’ is something less honorable — a propaganda piece with blame on its mind.”
Of course, NPR also notes the movie is “funded by Walden Media, a company owned by conservative mogul Philip Anschutz, who advocates creationist curricula in schools.”
NPR mentions -- in its review of the film -- that “Walden also co-produced the controversial pro-charter school documentary Waiting for Superman, so the outfit is not without axes to grind.”
Liberal outlets like NPR never dig into or mention who funds movies with liberal themes or story lines. For instance, Matt Damon's anti-fracking movie "Promised Land," which casts aspersions on American oil production, has been funded by OPEC. But there is no outrage in the mainstream media and Hollywood because the movie portrays environmentalists as heroes.
In Newsday, reviewer Rafer Guzman writes that “despite its polish, ‘Won't Back Down’ is still propaganda,” because the movie “fears nuance, pushes an agenda and demonizes its opposition.”
The reviewer also mentions that the film is produced by Walden Media and the “conservative billionaire" Philip Anschutz.
And in Slate, reviewer Andrew O’Hehir writes, "the big picture is that the movie is unbelievable crap and the whole project was financed by conservative Christian billionaire Phil Anschutz, also the moneybags behind the documentary ‘Waiting for Superman,’” which “handled a similar agenda in subtler fashion.”
"Won't Back Down" sends a powerful message to the teachers unions and the broader culture about the country's failing schools. This is why progressive critics who know, as the late Andrew Breitbart always said, that "culture is upstream of politics" are trying to trash the movie to prevent its message from resonating with Americans.