A Treat for Everwood Fans
From an early age Stacey Bess (Emily VanCamp - Redeemer) knew she wanted to be a teacher and, whilst life made her put a hold on her plans, at the age of 24 she qualifies and is ready for her first job with visions of teaching in a beautiful classroom with adoring children. How different could it be as the only position available is teaching homeless children at a shelter, a place which is filthy, full of rats and shakes when ever a train rumbles past. Despite Stacey's initial reservations about teaching the homeless she refuses to quit, even when she discovers she is pregnant.
When I read the blurb in the TV listings for "Beyond the Blackboard" I sort of knew what to expect as it basically said a teacher helps make a difference in the lives of homeless children. And I am sure having read that you will probably know what to expect as well because teaching dramas where a teacher inspires a class of troubled children is a well used theme. To be honest that is not what attracted me to "Beyond the Blackboard" but the fact it starred Emily VanCamp and Treat Williams who I enjoyed when they starred together in the TV series "Everwood". But ironically "Beyond the Blackboard" impressed, not in that it was a great movie but thanks to the true story which it is based on it has some nice differences to your stereotypical inspirational teacher movie.
What that means is that alongside such standards as Stacey's determination to do the best she can and inspire the children we get some variations such as Stacey's initial horror of having to work with the homeless in a ramshackle classroom in an old railroad station. That also leads to another variation on the usual as with homeless parents we get their initial lack of support for what Stacey is doing but then there is a knock on effect as they see the difference she is making in their children's lives. It means that whilst "Beyond the Blackboard" never strays from the main familiar theme there is enough changes to keep you interested in how some things will play out.
As for the acting, well none of the performances in "Beyond the Blackboard" are great but they are solid with every actor managing to deliver a likeable character. Emily VanCamp as Stacey may struggle with delivering the emotional difficulties at the start of the movie but she delivers the joy of her character making a difference. Treat Williams delivers his usual friendly supportive performance exuding warmth from the minute we see him and Steve Talley as Stacey's supportive husband is solid and yes nice. But in many ways it is the children who shine and Liam McKanna as Danny and Paola Nicole Andino as Maria both deliver confident performances.
What this all boils down to is that on one hand "Beyond the Blackboard" is for the most a routine inspriational teacher movie, telling the sort of inspirational story used in various movies made a little more interesting by having it based around homeless children. But on the other hand it is a charming, wholesome, and heart warming movie which if all you want is a movie which is nice and positive it will be just the thing.