About three times a year we get to see a decent television production that once aired on local CBS stations (now ABC) and bears the Hallmark Hall of Fame emblem. Front of the Class is one of the more memorable titles in a string of varying genre films.
Front of the Class (2008) Hallmark Hall of Fame TV Film Review
Being different seems like it may be a disease for young Brad Cohen. No one seems to want to be his friend at school because he’s different – but he cannot control his unexplained shouts or “ticks” as he and his family refer to his bursts of uncontrollable emotion. His parents are divorced and his father cannot seem to understand him which leads twelve-year-old Brad to the assumption that his father is embarrassed of him while his mother (Patricia Heaton) never stops trying to find a cure for his unexplained behavior. She finds answers in the form of Tourettes Syndrome. Brad’s “constant companion” now has a name.
Now, ten years later, Brad (Jimmy Wolk) is a recent college grad and is searching for the opportunity to become a teacher – his dream occupation inspired by a former principal. Making a move to Atlanta where his father (Treat Williams) and stepmother now live, Brad finds constant conflicts with his father. Despite being surrounded with people who are reminding him to at least try. Overcoming odds is the one thing Brad is good at… but he didn’t know how many obstacles he’d have to beat.
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This didn’t sound particularly appealing when I first read its synopsis but my family hardly ever misses these, so I decided to watch it regardless and I’m glad to say that once again the storytelling depth surprises. Inspired by a true story, Front of the Class had the potential to be successful even before it aired since such stories usually make the better movies. Surrounding Brad are many people who care about him (for him), which makes him fortunate. This is one of the film’s best themes; family.
During this story, Brad overcoming his “disability” isn’t easy, especially as a young boy who was a “target” for jokes and ridicule. We come to realize that Brad has two special women in his life; in his mother who never stops fighting to find the cause of Brad’s baffling twitches and his stepmother. Likewise his brother Jeff is wonderfully defensive of Brad. I enjoyed that about the story; the characters development and the relationships that continued to expand because of that.
Based on a book that I’m assuming is a true story, I cannot say how much of this movie is accurate or inaccurate but I can without question recommend this as an inspiring film. When seeing the Hallmark name with any film, we’re sure it’ll be reasonably family-appropriate. To tell the story, veteran actors Williams and Heaton are both superb, but newcomer Jimmy Wolk is the scene-stealer; he gives an excellent portrayal. The supporting cast is also excellent including Brad’s young students who are all quite good in their minor roles.
Front of the Class manages to be comedic, challenging and even unexpectedly heartbreaking. The scenes of Brad teaching are heartwarming and the impact he has on his students is lovely. In learning to never accept defeat, this journey is a thought provoking one. If you missed this premiere on TV, try to get a copy as it is well worth seeing. Lessons are there for the taking.
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You can find Front of the Class digitally on Amazon Video
Content: A young boy apparently writes profanities on a wall [off-camera], it is said that he has ADHD. Some mild thematic material is in the form of Brad’s disability as a large factor in the film; another minor but important character has a life
threatening disease that eventually does take their life. This is TVPG.