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School Ties

4.4 out of 5 stars 433 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Brendan Fraser (George of the Jungle) leads an all-star cast including Matt Damon (Good Will Hunting), Ben Affleck (Chasing Amy and Shakespeare in Love) and Chris O'Donnell (Batman Forever) in this acclaimed coming-of-age drama. After receiving a scholarship to an exclusive prep school, working-class teen David Greene (Fraser) becomes a star athlete and wins the attention of a beautiful debutante (Amy Locane). But the ties of his newfound friendships are broken when a student reveals the secret David has tried to conceal--he is Jewish. Now David must take the most important stand of his life, one that will touch the lives of many and forever change the course of his future.

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Product Details

  • Actors: Brendan Fraser, Matt Damon, Chris O'Donnell, Randall Batinkoff, Andrew Lowery
  • Directors: Robert Mandel
  • Writers: Darryl Ponicsan, Dick Wolf
  • Producers: Danton Rissner, Michael Tadross, Sherry Lansing, Stanley R. Jaffe
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Dubbed: English, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    PG-13
    Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: June 29, 1999
  • Run Time: 106 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (433 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00000J122
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,268 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "School Ties" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
School Ties is a touching movie that is often compared to Dead Poets Society. While there are similarities (ie: teenage boys in a 1950s prep school setting), there are more differences. This is less of a movie about looking up to someone only to see them cut down before your eyes and the bonds and respect associated with that, and more of a story of the bonding and betrayal of friends.
A young Brendan Fraser is stunning as David Green, a working class Jewish kid accepted to one of the most prestigious preparatory schools in the country. It would only be for one year, but what a year. With dreams of going to Harvard, this was his way in. He keeps his religion a secret from the new friends he makes, but when it all comes out in the end, slurs are thrown and the people he thought he could trust leave David high and dry.
It speaks of an era when there were 100 different slurs for each religion and race, and the people who actually believed that somehow they were better. No character is portrayed in this negative light better than Charlie Dillon, brought to life by none other than Matt Damon. The seeds of his jealousy are planted within the first fifteen minutes and as the movie progresses you see Dillon become more desperate for his former status after David Green takes his position on the football team and in the life of a girl he thinks to be his.
Other standouts include Chris O'Donnell, playing Fraser's fictional roommate, who is forced to deal with the situation a bit more close up than some of their classmates. Randall Batinkoff, though not well known, gives a fabulous performance as Damon's fictional roommate, having to decide which is more important: his best friend and roommate of 4 years, or his morals and conscience urging him to speak up in defense of David Green.
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Format: DVD
This film might have seemed "strained and obvious" to some of the other reviewers here, but if you are Jewish and grew up in the 1950's, you'll relate to it very well. Especially the part about having to violate the Jewish holidays in order to play on the team -- a conflict that still arises for Jewish students today.
I've used this film very successfully in high school discussions and in classes on antisemitism. And yes, things like this really did happen to Jews -- and still do. The question of whether or not to stay "in the closet" and "pass" or be yourself and get rejected is an issue for other minorities, too. If you work in any area of multicultural studies and/or dialogue, you should add this film to your library.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This movie is definitely made "the way they used to make 'em," as some would say - and most reviewers do not mention that Dick Wolf, of "Law and Order" fame, is the creator of the story, which concerns a Jewish high school boy getting the golden opportunity to excel in sports and academics at an elite boarding school. It's superbly made - the music by Maurice Jarre, one of the great film composers - is just one of the stand outs of this terrific film. The acting is genuine, heart felt, and strong. I wish Brendan Fraser had made more films like this, playing a real man, not the action hero kinds of things he did later. He really excels here - and so does Matt Damon, in a terrific, complex turn, echoing his later role in "The Talented Mr. Ripley," as a self-described "mediocrity," riding the coattails of his much more talented father and brother. Amy Locane, radiant here, is another superb actress we have not seen enough of in roles like this one. Unlike so many contemporary movies, which never seem to end, and have no sense of pace or story, "School Ties" has no fat at all: it's beautiful directed and photographed, beautifully scored, wonderfully acted and written. And its message, though sometimes overstated, is still applicable today: prejudice, in whatever form it takes, destroys lives and damages and diminishes all of us. This theme, together with other themes in the picture of religious faith, loyalty to friends and family, the meaning of hard work, marks this as a very unusual picture for its time, right at the cusp of the greedy '90's, and there probably hasn't been as good a picture on this subject since. This is a minor classic, without a doubt.Read more ›
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Format: DVD
There's the crowd of glib, eccentric preppies, playing pranks on the French teacher... and we know that prejudice is going to rear its ugly head, but then it's so much more interesting than you're expecting.

For one, Dillon (Damon) is such a real person. He's such a sport about the scholarship kid coming in and taking his place on the football team. My favorite part is when he tells Green, "If you get into Harvard, you'll deserve it," (subtext: unlike me). He was even prepared to take it like a man when Green steals his girl. But that horrible feeling of inadequacy -- that he's never going to live up to his brother's standard, that he's just a sham of his family's reputation, transforms magically into hate when he realizes his rival is a Jew.

Dillon knows Green is the better man. He KNOWS it, but he still uses his religion to beat him down. It doesn't even matter whether Dillon believes the stereotypes. As long as some do, they can be used to attack the rival.

Charlie Dillon makes an excellent villain because he can be identified with. Whether you or I would attack someone's religious faith isn't necessarily the question. When people are in dire straights, they tend to jettison their principles and grab whatever tool seems handiest and most effective. I love the fact that we get to see this guy at his best and his worst.

When the question of the Honor Code arises, we get to see another side of the world faced by the outsider. Even if his classmates can get over their prejudice and remember that Green is a good guy, will that be enough to make them turn on one of their own? Even if they do, will it matter?

This movie was so much better than it had to be. Great plot, great characters, great atmosphere.
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