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Dangerous Minds Reviews

How can you thank someone who's taken you from a near-masterpiece to a contemptible piece of Hollywood schlock? Director John N. Smith, who helmed last year's masterly THE BOYS OF ST. VINCENT, is reduced to carrying Michelle Pfeiffer's baggage in this assembly-line star vehicle. It's a perfunctory amalgam of every urban high school melodrama you've ever seen -- BLACKBOARD JUNGLE, UP THE DOWN STAIRCASE, TO SIR WITH LOVE etc. -- with Pfeiffer as your basic ultrafeminine ex-Marine trying to instill a love of learning in her superficially thuggish students. This she accomplishes by wearing leather, talking tough and parsing Bob Dylan lyrics instead of Shakespeare (although Dylan's sensibility is probably no less remote to contemporary teenagers than the Bard's). Based on the real-life experiences of one LouAnne Johnson, DANGEROUS MINDS proved a surprise commercial success, almost entirely due to Coolio's hit theme song, "Gangsta's Paradise."