Radical Parent Guide
Inspiring, hopeful, and bittersweet, this is a touching movie about the innate curiosity and intelligence of every child.
Parent Movie Review
Sergio Juarez Correa (Eugenio Derbez) has a revolutionary idea. What if, instead of teaching students to pass tests, teachers guided kids to find answers to the questions that interest them? Even more radically, the sixth grade teacher wants to try out his outlandish ideas in one of the most poverty-stricken, hopeless schools in Mexico.
Its nickname is the “School of Punishment”, and José Urbina Lopez Elementary School is so bad that half of the school’s sixth graders drop out. The ones who remain are disengaged and perform poorly on standardized tests.
Sergio’s class is representative of the school’s struggling students. Nico (Danilo Guardiola) is being inducted into a local gang, and carries a gun in his backpack. Paloma (Jennifer Trejo) is a mathematical genius, constrained by her need to care for her father, who has become ill after years of picking through a massive garbage dump for scrap he can sell. Lupe (Mia Fernanda Solis) is fascinated by philosophy but spends her time caring for her younger siblings because her mother works the graveyard shift – and is pregnant with another child. When Sergio tells these kids that they have as much potential as any other student in the world, they listen – and the results are incredible.
One of the best things about Radical is that it’s based on a true story. In a world where the news is dominated by war and hate, it’s wonderful to watch a movie about a decent, caring teacher who wants nothing more than to help children discover the joy of learning. This is a hopeful, bittersweet movie about the power of education, self-confidence, love, and compassion. It will make you smile and might even bring a tear to your eye. (It certainly brought tears to mine.)
The film also stands a painful reminder of the challenges facing children in Mexico and other developing nations. These kids aren’t constrained by their own abilities, but by the grinding poverty experienced by their parents and the systemic corruption that robs their schools of critical resources like library books and computers.
Also hard to watch is the violence that pervades the children’s world. There are upsetting scenes of gang violence and death as well as the attempted abduction of a girl, with an implied threat of forced prostitution. There is also a small amount of profanity, including a single sexual expletive.
Despite the negative content, I wholeheartedly recommend Radical to families with teenagers. The story is inspiring, the characters appealing, and the actors deeply immersed in their roles. This is a movie that can help all of us value curiosity, encourage learning, and appreciate the teachers that lit a spark within us. I just hope every child gets to feel what Sergio’s students do – an infectious love of learning and the confidence to keep trying.
Directed by Christopher Zalla. Starring Eugenio Derbez, Daniel Haddad, Jennifer Trejo. Running time: 125 minutes. Theatrical release November 3, 2023. Updated December 29, 2023
Watch the trailer for Radical
Rating & Content Info
Why is Radical rated PG-13? Radical is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for some strong violent content, thematic material and strong language.
Violence: A child is recruited to a gang and is given a gun to carry in his backpack. A gang member grabs a young girl off the street and asks her if she’s a virgin: the implied threat is forced prostitution. Gunshots are heard on several occasions. A shooting takes place off screen and bloody bodies (including that of a child) are seen. Traumatized children are shaking near the corpses. In another scene, children walk past dead bodies covered with sheets, lying on the sidewalk. A man has a nosebleed. A man is seen with a split lip and facial abrasions.
Sexual Content: A man attempts to abduct a child with an implied threat of forced prostitution. Children have a classroom discussion on the morality of abortion. A girl kisses a boy on the cheek.
Profanity:. The script contains a single sexual expletive, a half dozen minor profanities, and a couple of scatological curses and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: It’s implied that drugs are being sold. Two adult men drink beer while having a conversation.
Page last updated December 29, 2023
Radical Parents' Guide
The film is inspired by a Wired article written by Joshua Davis, A Radical Way of Unleashing a Generation of Geniuses. It can also be read here.
For more articles about this story you can read the articles below:
Cinemaholic: Radical Sergia Juarez Correa Is a Teacher Even Today
What do you think of Sergio’s teaching philosophy? If you had the opportunity to learn anything, what would you choose to study? What’s stopping you from learning more now?