Stand! Parent Guide
There's no movie musical magic here, just excruciatingly drawn out mediocrity.
Parent Movie Review
After fleeing the Bolshevik uprising in the Ukraine, Stefan (Marshall Williams) and his father Mike Sokolowski (Gregg Henry) are working in Winnipeg to raise enough money to bring the rest of their family to Canada. Stefan has even met a nice young girl, Rebecca Almazoff (Laura Slade Wiggins), who encourages his involvement with the city’s emerging labor movement. Meanwhile, as the Canadian Expeditionary Force returns home from World War I in 1919, the troops find their jobs filled by immigrant families like the Sokolowskis who are working at half wages. With costs going up and jobs scarce, conflicts between different immigrant groups and the veterans threaten to destabilize the city. When labor organizers propose a mass general strike to force employers to pay a living wage, the community is only divided further - with Stefan and Rebecca on one side and Mike on the other.
I like musicals as much as the next guy - more, if my male friends are any benchmark for masculine opinion of the genre. And I hate to say it but Stand! is almost unspeakably bad. The music is unoriginal and the lyrics sound like a bad high-school poetry project. They are poorly integrated into the story, both thematically and acoustically. For the audience, it’s particularly jarring when characters suddenly lose their eastern European accents as soon as they start to sing. Director Robert Adetuyi apparently didn’t consider choreography an important part of a musical, a significant error which leaves the actors (obviously) lip-syncing at each other while awkwardly standing in the middle of roads, in freeze-frame asides, or on one notable occasion, across a dead body. There’s no musical movie magic here – just poorly thought out mediocrity.
Stand! also fails to avoid one of the most common problems in historical fiction – namely, giving period characters 21st century opinions, grounded in a contemporary world view. Instead of being people of their time, they become nothing more than modern characters playing dress-up. Not only does this suck any educational value out of the film, it also diminishes its value as entertainment. And if that weren’t enough to kill the flick, the characters are the flattest cardboard cutouts I’ve ever had the misfortune to spend two hours watching. I’ve never wanted a crossover with Rambo quite so intensely. At least in Rambo, the cardboard cutouts get shot before they have a chance to burst into song.
There aren’t many content concerns in this tedious film - the violence is limited and portrayed as unnecessary, the alcohol use is always indicative of characters making poor decisions, and the profanity is almost entirely in the same vein. But this is another example of a movie where appropriate content does not equate with entertaining viewing. Just because it’s inoffensive doesn’t mean it’s good. And I’m not alone on this one - an elderly couple seated near me decided to give up and walk out around the one-hour mark. Sometimes, retreating can be a better decision than standing your ground…
Stand! is only screening in Canadian theaters.Directed by Robert Adetuyi. Starring Marshall Williams, Laura Slade Wiggins, and Gregg Henry. Running time: 110 minutes. Theatrical release November 29, 2019. Updated May 14, 2020
Watch the trailer for Stand!
Rating & Content Info
Why is Stand! rated Not Rated? Stand! is rated Not Rated by the MPAA
Violence: Several individuals are punched and kicked. Several people are beaten with truncheons. A man is shot in the abdomen.
Sexual Content: An unmarried couple is shown in bed together in a non-explicit state of undress.
Profanity: There are four uses of moderate profanities, and perhaps a dozen uses of mild profanities and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Two adult characters are shown severely intoxicated.
Page last updated May 14, 2020
Stand! Parents' Guide
Learn about the Winnipeg General Strike here:
Humanrights.ca: The Winnipeg General Strike
Wikipedia: Winnipeg General Strike
National Post: Let’s not romanticize the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike
How did the Winnipeg General Strike affect labor law and civil rights in Canada?
Robert Borden was Prime Minister of Canada during the strike. What is his legacy? Did he face any political consequences for using the Northwest Mounted Police to violently break up a peaceful strike?
Wikipedia: Robert Borden What is the purpose of labor strikes? What are the labor laws in your area? Were any of them won through collective action on the part of employees?
Canadianlabour.ca: History of Labour in Canada
Aflcio.org: Our Labor History Timeline
Wikipedia: Collective bargaining
Loved this movie? Try these books…
For a teen friendly look at the Winnipeg General Strike, check out 1919: A Graphic History of the Winnipeg General Strike by the Graphic History Collective and David Lester.
Middle school readers will enjoy Papergirl by Melinda McCracken and Penelope Jackson. Centered around Cassie, a young girl who volunteers to distribute papers for the strike committee, this novel tells the story of the strike from a teen’s eye view.
The strikers recorded their own accounts of the strike. Edited by Norman Penner and written by the Winnipeg Defence Committee, Winnipeg 1919: The Strikers’ Own History of the General Strike provides a first person view of this significant event in Canadian history.
Related home video titles:
For a far, far better musical treatment of a strike, watch Newsies. Set in 1899, this musical features paper boys who go on strike to increase their meagre wages.
For a movie that combines rousing music with tales of injustice, oppression, and revolt, you can’t beat Les Miserables.
Fiddler on the Roof is one of the most beloved movie musicals. Featuring strong family ties, this tale follows a family as it confronts cultural change and, eventually, the need to emigrate from their home in Russia.
In Avalon, a close knit immigrant family pursues the American dream.