I have always enjoyed watching films featuring Morgan Freeman or Denzel Washington. Both of these actors seem to pick high-quality scripts as is the case with these two movies: Lean on Me (1989) and John Q (2002). The movies shine a light on two strong male characters who rise to the occasion and refuse to surrender to the hardship they face.
Lean on Me
Based on a true story, Morgan Freeman plays the role of Joe Clark, a radical principal brought into the Eastside High School to help out an old friend (and superintendent) of the district. Clark is their last hope for the school to pass the student achievement test and prevent that state from taking over the school. As the story unfolds, the school is, in fact, cleaned up, but the movie is more a story of Clark’s abrasive personality with the staff coupled with a genuine love and concern for the students. One of the most powerful scenes in the movies is when a freshman student, permanently expelled for smoking crack cocaine, begs Clark to let him back in school. Clark does, but not before forcefully explaining the terms of their agreement.
Written and directed long before the current discussion on the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), this fictional story examines the very real flaws in the American health system. Denzel Washington plays a down-on-his luck father whose hours at work — and health benefits — have been significantly reduced due to a recession. The story opens with Washington’s vehicle being repossessed which is the least of his problems. While playing in a Little League game his young son collapses near second base — and the family eventually learns the child needs a new heart. The problem is — the insurance won’t cover it so Washington must fund the astronomical costs himself. The story escalates when the desperate father takes matters into his own hands and ensures the health and well-being of his son.