Before the opening credits for To Sir, With Love II have even rolled, we’ve already heard Lulu reprising the title song from the 1967 original. It’s downhill after that. This time, Sidney Poitier’s British teacher Mark Thackeray has come to Chicago to teach a class of hoodlums. Poitier is given little more to do than to speak crisply and narrow his eyes to convey disapproval at the ignorance all around him. But before you know it, drug dealers are handing over their weapons and he’s brokering deals between warring gangs. One problem child writes teary poetry, almost making you wish guns were allowed in school.
The first Sir resonated as a loving fairy tale about education. The new Sir, in addition to lacking any young performers as compelling as the original movie’s Lulu or Judy Geeson, is like an episode of Room 222. Amazing but true: This thing was directed by feature films’ Peter Bogdanovich.