I just got finished watching this movie and I had to write about it while it was fresh in my mind.
I've been anxiously awaiting this one from Netflix for a while now for a few reasons.
Not that you'd probably know it from my writing on this lowly blog (I'm convinced I've lost brain cells with each pregnancy...) but I was a member of a nationally titled forensics team in college. I'll admit debate was certainly not my strongest event, but I was passionate about all things public speaking. So obviously this movie piqued my interest. I mean, when you're on the speech and debate team, no one is terribly interested at your school outside your own squad. So a movie about debate? COOL!
Additionally, while in high school I was privileged to take a college credit American History class with an outstanding teacher (who later left the public schools and taught at a more suitable place: one of our state universities). The pivotal assignment for the class was a research paper and if you were enrolled in this class then you got a pass to the university library, the big one, the REAL one at the BIG school down in the city. Oh boy was this a big deal to a lowly 16 year old girl. I drove down there with my temporary library card, checked out a monstrous stack of books and lugged them home feeling like "big" stuff. And I scoured that stack for weeks typing on an old dinosaur computer (remember this was 1995).
My topic was one I saw lacking in my history books and it intrigued me, particularly because I had actually faced racism in my own neighborhood school. What was the demise of the civil rights movement as a movement? If all the laws were in place, did these organizations, who organized Freedom Rides and sit-ins all over the South, just dissolve with no purpose? Did they morph into something else? Why don't I hear about the Congress of Racial Equality anymore? We certainly haven't arrived.
So I wrote and wrote and wrote (and got an A, for which I am still proud).
With that said, this movie suited many of my personal interests. And I'm being vague on purpose so as to not spoil anything with my pseudo-review.
Overall, I liked it. A lot. There were funny parts that only a nerdy debate-type person can appreciate. It was loosely based on a true story from the 1930's, and as a period movie it was fantastic. Denzel Washington's character inspired like Robin William's teacher did in Dead Poets Society. Of course, there's the predictable Hollywood influence of a love story (involving a brief inappropriate scene that could have been replaced with a simple kiss and made this movie acceptable to show to students, but that was a previous post, huh?) James Farmer Jr. is played by Denzel Whitaker and I think he was my favorite part of the movie.
There are some historical differences in the movie, but I still enjoyed it and would recommend for adults.