Won't Back Down says that whatever your feelings about the subject, lack of change cannot be the answer to our public-education crisis. Trying to cram an informational exposé and a vintage inspirational awards-bait weeper into one movie, Won't Back Down is awkward at times, yet it's also passionate in a surprisingly smart way. It makes a genuine drama out of impossible issues.
—Owen Gleiberman Entertainment Weekly
While there are moments where this drama, about a pair of mothers hellbent on improving their children's education, is compelling and deeply moving, the film gets mired in heavy-handed cliches.
—Claudia Puig USA Today
The issue is contentious, messy, prone to wishful thinking. Some see a corporate plot to privatize schools. Others see a last chance to save them. Won't Back Down is on the latter side, obviously, and it has the boilerplate urgency of a TV movie that has been blessed with a high-end cast.
—Ty Burr Boston Globe
Both the lottery scene and the anti-union material seem to be fictionalized versions of material in the powerful documentary "Waiting for Superman," which covered similar material with infinitely greater depth.
—Roger Ebert Chicago Sun Times
However you take its politics, the film upholds a dreary tradition of simplifying and sentimentalizing matters of serious social concern, and dumbing down issues that call for clarity and creative thinking. Our children deserve better.
—A.O. Scott New York Times