Best Movies of All Time + Waiting for Superman



You can watch the trailer here

This review could either be very short or very long, depending on how much I want to diverge from the whole point of the review. I'll try to keep it short, however.

Essentially, we've got a documentary from the Academy Award-winning director of An Inconvenient Truth - Davis Guggenheim. This time around, he's tackling education and education reform in the United States. He partially follows five students from New York and California as they wait to see if their name will be called in a lottery, allowing them to attend a higher-end public school that will exponentially increase their chances of succeeding in the future in comparison to the education they would receive from their local public school. In the in-between segments, Guggenheim fills us in with the history of education reform (or lack thereof), giving the good and the bad and his reasons for why reform has yet to be truly successful.

The film is most compelling when it's following the five kids and their families. You can see and feel the difficulties of the public school system right alongside the parents, and you truly want the best for the kids. The final scene, composed of the various lotteries at different schools, is both crushing and heartwarming. It's simply too difficult not to get emotionally attached to these kids.

However, it loses some of its compelling storytelling in those in-between segments, and I felt like I was just thrown figure after figure. It was really hard for me to keep up with it all. When seen as a whole, I just didn't feel like I could relate. Yes, I'm not exactly the type of student they were portraying on-screen, most of which were poorer minorities from lower socioeconomic statuses than my own. Also, I didn't attend a public school until high school, and even in that case, I attended a magnet school designed to prepare me for college success. So, in a way, I probably just couldn't connect on a large scale.

Some of the interviewees were interesting, but even those got to be a little bogged down in technicalities. And there was a time or two where I immediately thought of a counter-argument to something proposed on-screen, and that's not very good for a documentary. I mean, if you think of a counter-argument a couple hours later while you're thinking about it, that's fine; but to think of it in immediate reaction? That's either not good film-making or not a good idea.

It's not to say the film is bad - all evidence to the contrary. I'm sure someone with more interest in the subject will find it incredibly telling, but for me personally, I just got a little bit bored with it as time went on.

Movie Review Summary:
Grade: B
Thumb... Slightly Up

2010, Davis Guggenheim, doc, movie review, and more:

Relevant to: WAITING FOR "SUPERMAN" + Waiting for Superman