Making the Grades
Jamal Wallace (Robert Brown XVII) and his friends have often noticed the mysterious man watching them with binoculars from his inner city apartment each day while they shoot hoops outside their Brooklyn school. Accepting his buddies dare to see who "The Window" (their name for the man) is, Jamal breaks into his flat late one night, assuming the man will be gone or asleep. Instead he is confronted, so he flees, leaving his backpack behind.
While his friends assume Jamal only lives for basketball, his backpack holds many little volumes full of half-completed stories and notes, indications of a deep love of writing. Spending hours in his bedroom sharpening his craft--his only interruption being the frequent sexual noises from the neighbors, which we hear as well--Jamal is a highly intelligent boy who refuses to do well in school fearing the resulting peer pressure.
The next day, when Jamal's forgotten backpack suddenly drops from The Window's apartment, the boy is relieved to have his writing returned, but surprised at the many notes scribbled on his work. Convinced there is more to the man behind the glass, Jamal returns to The Window's apartment, but is caustically told to stay away. Persisting, Jamal discovers over time that the recluse is actually William Forrester, an acclaimed author who closeted himself away after publishing only one book. The awkward beginning to their relationship will eventually lead the two of them through a totally new story with mutually beneficial results.
A moving story that portrays the power of personal motivation, overcoming negative peer pressure, and how both young and old can contribute to a positive relationship, many would argue that Finding Forrester should be recommended high school viewing.
Unfortunately, as is too often the case, the writers of this movie chose to include many moderate profanities, two sexual expletives, and another term used to describe a sexual act, which is more than the subject matter can justify. Creating a major flaw in this diamond of a movie, makes Forrester another questionable family film rather than a real find.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Finding Forrester.
What consequences could have resulted from Jamal’s decision to break into William’s apartment?
What traits in Jamal’s character caused William to trust him?
Could Jamal have achieved equally good grades in his original school? Did the private school offer him anything more than prestige? How did peer pressure hold Jamal back from being his best? Can negative peer pressure effect students in all types of schools?
You may create an interesting family discussion by questioning the amount of objectionable language in this otherwise good film. Why do moviemakers include profanities in the work? Is this how these people would really talk? If most family members feel the portrayal is realistic, ask why our language has become so riddled with profanity? Do they think the media’s increased use of these words has affected their use in society?
Another great teaching movie that shows a true story of inner city success (with a lot less profanity) is Stand and Deliver . Check our review!