There's an air of sweetness about this movie, despite the grim subject matter (touches on physical and inappropriate abuse of children, and the former is sometimes quite graphic, so be warned) and it's very difficult to feel pessimistic when watching it. Perhaps it's because of the light humor ("Hungry?" "I could eat."), or perhaps it's the innate sweetness and innocence of Derek Luke, who played Antwone. Probably it's a combination of both.
This is not to say that there aren't some heartwrenching moments, of course. There were scenes where I found myself wanting to reach through the TV screen and give this poor kid a hug. But the overall feel of the movie is one of triumph: Antwone Fisher was an angry, violent young man, yet he overcame that and became a really great person; he was abused and subsequently scared of women, yet he worked through that and found a wonderful girlfriend; he was lost and alone, yet at the end he found a family to love and be loved. Knowing that the movie is based on a true story only adds to the feeling of good prevailing over bad.
Denzel's first film where he both acted and directed, and one that he can definitely be proud of.