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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Lean on Me (1989)

Lean on Me (1989)

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Released 19-Dec-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama None
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1989
Running Time 104:02
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By John G. Avildsen

Warner Home Video
Starring Morgan Freeman
Beverly Todd
Robert Guillaume
Alan North
Lynne Thigpen
Robin Bartlett
Michael Beach
Ethan Phillips
Sandra Reaves-Phillips
Sloane Shelton
Jermaine 'Huggy' Hopkins
Karen Malina White
Karina Arroyave
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $14.95 Music Steven Adler
Bill Conti
Duff McKagan

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     It seems that we humans need to be inspired. We may appear cynical, sophisticated and self-assured, but scratch even superficially under our collective skin, and there beats the heart of the eager enthusiast, just waiting for the spark of inspiration to ignite our energy. Joe Clark is the kind of character that will always inspire both controversy and results.

     In the mid 1980s, Eastside High School in New Jersey was a horror school. Stabbings, shootings, drug crimes, pregnancies and social dysfunction was the prevailing culture. Academic records were abysmal and the entire school was under threat of takeover by the state.

     Enter Joe Clark, played supremely by Morgan Freeman. Using standover tactics worthy of any drug baron or sergeant major, he rapidly earns his nicknames of "Batman" and "Crazy Joe", wielding a baseball bat and megaphone in the school halls, imposing a virtual martial law, identifying and ejecting troublemakers.

     His uncompromising approach earned him the enmity of those he ousted, their families, and nervous government officials, unsure of his methods. However, for those who entered into his game plan, life became radically different. Classes were orderly, the environment clean, and a new hope for academic achievement was born.

     But the newfound peace proved to be the eye of the storm, as those opposed to Joe's methodology gathered to challenge and oust him. Will Clark and his devotees withstand their efforts?

     This movie is presented in a gritty and extremely noisy fashion. Much of this film is really loud. The opening scenes are a deafening cacophony of noise - hip-hop music, screams and wall-to-wall sound, with a flurry of violent and threatening images assaulting the senses. Welcome to the jungle. Freeman's performance is equally strident, and in many ways, he seems to strive to not portray Clark sympathetically.

     It would seem churlish to criticise a story based on fact as "predictable". After all, the facts are, more or less, the facts. That being said, there is a plethora of these "Blackboard Jungle" stories about, and this adheres closely to the genre. It is deftly handled, provides the requisite feelings of inspiration at its conclusion, and provides another opportunity to marvel at the remarkable Freeman, which is never a bad thing! Joe Clark himself has gone on to inspire controversy in the youth penal system, shackling and heckling his charges, firing up debate all over again and, like history repeating itself, getting results as well! How do you solve a problem like Crazy Joe?

      Lean On Me makes entertaining viewing.

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Transfer Quality


     The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

     There was an overall flatness to the presentation which, although I doubt it was completely intentional, did not detract from the subject matter at all. Detail, particularly shadow detail, was generally good and there was no low level noise.

     The colour palette of this film is not particularly wide, but that may well have been a production decision, and skin tones are rendered accurately.

     Aside from a mild amount of aliasing, MPEG artefacts were relatively rare. There was a small amount of motion blur, and the odd film artefact, but overall the print was reasonably clean.

     Subtitles were occasionally slow to show, but once there, they were accurate and easy to read.

     There was no layer change on this presentation.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     There is one audio track available - English Dolby Digital 2.0

     The dialogue was okay, although there were times when it was a little "soupy" and difficult to hear. Throughout the presentation, there was a low level hiss present in the audio which was very distracting, and at times quite dominant. In fact, overall, the sound was really quite bad on this disc. There are distortions, pops and hisses present, and the volume was variable over the course of the presentation. Fortunately, audio sync was not included amongst the sins.

     The musical score by Steven Adler was no great surprise for a movie in the 80s. Overall it was well put together and representative, doing its job well.

     There was barely any sense of direction in the sound at all and the subwoofer was completely inactive.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


     There were no extras on this disc.


     The menu is static, silent and easy to navigate.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     It appears the R1 and R4 versions are identical, so ladies and gentlemen, select your local region.


     This is an entertaining and inspirational film which provides us with exactly the experience we expect to get from it. Well presented and superbly performed by Freeman, it's probably not as seminal a film as, perhaps, Dead Poets Society for example, but it is a worthy and worthwhile film.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Mirella Roche-Parker (read my bio)
Wednesday, January 28, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDSinger SGD-001, using S-Video output
DisplayTeac 76cm Widescreen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationTeac 5.1 integrated system
SpeakersTeac 5.1 integrated system

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