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Cheaters (2001)

Jeff Daniels , Jena Malone , John Stockwell  |  R |  DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Jeff Daniels, Jena Malone
  • Directors: John Stockwell
  • Writers: John Stockwell
  • Producers: Sykes Gloria Jean
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: HBO Studios
  • DVD Release Date: February 3, 2004
  • Run Time: 106 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000053VAN
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #131,909 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Cheaters" on IMDb

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

In a major academic contest against affluent Whitney High, the struggling kids of Steinmetz High School know they didn't have a chance. But one teacher and seven of his students had a dream. They knew they could succeed with the right amount of study, the right application, the right discipline...the right answers. When an opportunity to win presents itself, it's a no brainer-and for seven kids and their teacher, that could be the problem.

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"I learned more about the way the world really works from my nine months on the academic decathlon team than most people will learn in a lifetime," ruminates Jolie Fitch (Jena Malone) in the coda of Cheaters, John Stockwell's dramatization of the 1995 Steinmetz school scandal. Fitch is the team leader of the crumbling inner-city school's first "academic decathlon" squad, a group of hard-working kids hopelessly outclassed by the perennial champions from a lavishly funded model school for the gifted and the rich. When a Steinmetz student discovers the question sheet for the upcoming finals, the issue isn't whether to cheat, but how. Stockwell discards easy moralizing and empty platitudes for an ambiguous perspective framed by questions of privilege and prejudice. Jeff Daniels, so long the cinema's hapless nice guy, is excellent as the tireless teacher, a well-meaning idealist who struggles with his inner demons through the ordeal. Malone is refreshing as a street-wise class brain whose ambition drives the team on. Their guilt is the focus of a predatory media scandal, but it's the hypocrisy of the system and the double standards of the gatekeepers that Stockwell takes to task in his compelling drama. Some might call it cynical, but Cheaters is too sharp and smart for such an easy label. Better to call it disillusioned. --Sean Axmaker

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Track down this film February 18, 2002
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I was lucky enough to catch Cheaters on HBO around two in the morning. Though it might, at first, appear to be just another overly "hip" teen comedy, Cheaters is actually one of the best films about high school that I've ever seen. Nicely blending comedy and coming-of-age drama, Cheaters tells the true story of how underdog Stienmetz High School won the 1995 Illinios Academic Decathalon just to then lose their accolades when it was revealed they'd cheated. As someone who was a part of the whole AcDec subculture in high school, I can say that this film managed to perfectly capture the feeling and the atmosphere of that competition, showing not only how it often gives a much needed sense of purpose to students who, otherwise, don't have a place in the highly regimented caste system of high school but also how public, urban-based schools often face a great deal of elitist bias in favor of more exclusive private and magnet schools. While the film never makes the mistake of excusing or trivializing the cheating, it also makes it clear that the students of Stienmetz and similar schools often are treated unfairly by a stagnant system that has decided to give up on them. In the end, it's hard not to feel sympathetic to these students even as they cheat and it's also hard not to feel that, whatever mistakes were made, the actions taken as a result, by both the media and the Chicago School Board, were even worse. The film perfectly captures the exhiliration of the student's initial victory and, just as perfectly, the terror of being judged in the mad feeding frenzy that grew out of the Stienmetz Scandal. Read more ›
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly thought provoking and engaging HBO film January 23, 2001
By metheb
Format:DVD
"Cheaters" is an interesting study of the differences between suburban and inner-city schools and the biases that exist when an ethnically diverse academic decathlon team from a poor neighborhood beats the reigning champions from a plush suburb. The startling defeat is challenged without any proof of misconduct and as a viewer you really sympathize with the inner-city kids, even though they cheated.
The performances from Jeff Daniels and young Jena Malone ('Bastard out of Carolina' and 'Stepmom') really hold the film together and keeps you rooting for these kids against the hypocrisy of the school board and the rich kids who have everything handed to them.
This is one of the better HBO films to come out over the last year (in addition to the amazing 'The Corner') and will really make you think about the disparity and difference between socio-economic groups and the stigmatization some face when they triumph against the odds - no matter what the circumstances.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie! Funny and Realistic! March 24, 2005
A Kid's Review
Format:DVD
Cheaters is one of the best tv movies ever to come around. Jeff Daniels plays the Academic Decathalon coach who is fed up that the school he works at refuses to contribute any money to their cause and is generally mad about how Whitney Young is favored and his school is poorly funded. This is totally understandable, so when he finds his team with the help of Jena Malone, he really wants to prove everyone wrong by winning. When one of the students gets a copy of the test, they decide whether to look at it and of course can't refuse. The cast is very good here and i found the characters intriguing. This is not some rubbishy movie to pass time, it is well written and seriously interesting. I did of course hate whitney young and wanted steinmetz to win, even if they did cheat. ALthough cheating is wrong, I could see what drove them to want to win. Anyone can. Once they knew they had the test, it would be impossible for them to want to study when they knew the questions were right next to them. The only thing that I did not understand was how they never thougt about what would happen at nationals after they won state. I guess it would be too far in the future, but someone was bound to notice. It is too bad they cheated and got caught i guess. I still hate whitney young more, even though they did something wrong. I also was surprised that a teacher would have the same position on the subject as the students, but I could understand based on how his father worked hard and got screwed. The music in the film is also great. It was completly unfair that whitney young's advisor or whatever wanted them to take the test again, why should they have? That was outrageous and i seriously did hate the snitch in the film. He did not do it to clean his conscience or whatever, no no he wanted to become famous as the person who helped crack the case. Bottom Line: At least rent this movie, you will not be disappointed. It is that good!
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lesson for the Real World August 24, 2003
Format:DVD
I never tender reviews but I think that a reply to the already posted reviews is in order.
First, cheating is wrong. Driving too fast is wrong. The best applicant not getting the job, office, etc. is wrong. Not paying your fair share of taxes is wrong. Getting off by a legal technicality although you committed the crime is wrong.
My point is that cheating is wrong but that doesn't necessarily make it a bad choice.
A chasm exists between reality and the pithy moral/ethical aphorisms we were taught as children.
Have you ever told anyone when breaking up with them (or the other way around) "it isn't you, it's my fault" when you knew that it really was them, but you didn't want to hurt their feelings?
This is reality. Reality is dirty, unfair, and it bites.
This is the lesson of this movie. Don't pitty these students or hate them. Just recall my paraphrase of the last lines of the flick, when one of the cheaters remarks:
"Yeah I got into college. The admissions officer thought my academic team experience built character...I learned more about life during the experience than any other time...If one of my students cheated, would I turn them the little bastards in? You bet, because if they can get past me then just maybe they are ready for the real world".
This is so familiar to me since, as a teacher, I see students all the time who are cheating or in the throes of the ethical dilemma about doing so. I never tell them one way or the other, but I know that many of them do cheat because I'm fairly bright and aware, but I am sure that there are some who even get by me.
Life [is tough], just deal.
Thanks for reading :-B
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars DVD in bad condition
The dvd was a little damaged with some substance that I didn't know what it was (like dry cement or chalk or something dusty). Read more
Published 9 months ago by Betzilia Colon Fernandez
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it
I haven't seen this movie since it first came out. Very glad I purchased it. I thoroughly enjoyed this flick.
Published 18 months ago by Jonathan M Gatto
5.0 out of 5 stars Jenna Malone, what more is there to say?
Was really good. Acting was pretty good and you kinda start rooting for the little cheating kids by the end.
Published 19 months ago by Cazbaz
5.0 out of 5 stars family history
loved the movie. son went to highschool there. glad it was available to us for a family keep sake and in dvd
Published 20 months ago by Laurel Viera
3.0 out of 5 stars A good work of incredible fiction
This movie is actually pretty good if you don't take into account actual facts as a basis for informing your opinion about the film. Read more
Published on September 5, 2009 by kadiem
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth Cheating
Whether the events of this movie were true or not, the movie was entertaining. I did not like the language, but it is after all an HBO movie and was to be expected. Read more
Published on August 12, 2009 by Little ol me
5.0 out of 5 stars Are They Good Guys Or Bad Guys
Jena Malone stars in this movie about cheating on scholastic competition. Though she cheated, she is suppose to be the protagonist, and are we suppose to side with her? Read more
Published on February 9, 2008 by Harry Young
4.0 out of 5 stars Unexpectedly Great Film!
I'm not sure how this movie premiered. I think it was on MTV, if I'm not mistaken! Did it come out in theaters?

In any case, it was certainly a sleeper. Read more
Published on August 22, 2006 by Dubyac99
5.0 out of 5 stars It is original
This movie presents a real moral dilemna..should students who have always been thought of as losers take a chance and cheat. Read more
Published on October 20, 2005 by Ronnie Clay
4.0 out of 5 stars See It
I went to Steinmetz High School before this happened. Steinmetz was not located in the poorer section of Chicago and not only poor kids attended Steinmetz. Read more
Published on April 2, 2005 by Streak Alumni
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