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Freedom Writers

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Sigh. Another well-meaning youth-oriented film, inspired by a true story, and designed to unite us all in a big warm hug of happy diversity and -- bonus -- triumph over adversity. An earnest high school teacher (Hillary Swank) reaches her L.A. 'hood charges -- an assortment of blacks, Latinos, Cambodians and one white guy -- through a few well-chosen books (A Diary of Anne Frank) and an inclusive assignment: The kids keep, and share, journals. You can check off the expected plot points -- frustrated hubby at home, stuffy school administrators, resistant kids who nonetheless melt when teach gets pathetically funky up in here. Every 18 months, it seems, a marginally different version of this story has to be filmed. I guess I'm happy to see book-learning and dedicated educators celebrated -- but still. Hollywood's been adapting this dust-covered inspirational textbook since the '50s. (AH)

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