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Waiting For "Superman" (2010)

DVD Cover (Paramount)
Culture & Society, Documentary, Education, Social Issues
Davis Guggenheim Davis Guggenheim
Charles Adam Charles Adam
Charles Adams Charles Adams
Jonathan Alter Jonathan Alter
Robert Balfanz Robert Balfanz
Harriet Ball Harriet Ball

7.5 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by bluemeanie
Added: October 24, 2010
It seems odd that the man who won an Oscar for his documentary on global warming would go on to produce a documentary that basically rips apart the AFT and NEA. But that is what director Davis Guggenheim has done. He has created a film of great urgency, a film that needs to be seen by everyone who can see it. That film is called "Waiting for Superman" and is turns some very interesting ideas on their heads. Guggenheim does not care for the current state of our public education system and he believes there is plenty of blame to go around. Most of that blame he places solely on the shoulders of the teachers.

Is this unfair? Not when you consider how easy it is for en educator to become tenured, therefore ensuring they cannot get fired for under performing. Guggenheim does a terrific job of showing us just how difficult it is, almost impossible, to dismiss a teacher for poor performance. Guggenheim shows us teachers and administrators who genuinely care about kids and education and he shows us how their programs and policies work. For, for instance, Geoffrey Canada, a man who comes alive when he starts speaking about kids or to kids. The school he helped erect is one of the leading schools around and the students are some of the poorest. Take, for example, Michelle Rhee, who took over the ailing Washington D.C. school district and has made significant change by holding people accountable for their actions.

The film also follows five kids at different points in the U.S. as they all compete to gain admittance into schools via a lottery procedure. These are parents who genuinely care about the education of their children and want to help them succeed as much as possible. Their hopes rest on the bounce of a ping-pong ball. This process is also a great way of building suspense and keeping the audience hooked from beginning to end. I was really rooting for these families and their kids and the heartbreaking ending only goes to show us that this film is as real as they come and shows us exactly what lower and middle class Americans have to deal with.

Unlike Michael Moore, Guggenheim offers solutions to the problems he discusses. He shows us programs and schools that work and he explains how they work. He paints some interesting portraits of education systems that are crippled by the unions and not allowed to reach their full potential. Teachers are not gods and it is time they and everyone else realized that. It is not a privilege to HAVE them teach our children, it is a privilege FOR them to teach our children. Too many times education is tossed by the wayside because of the unions and this idea that every teacher should be treated equal. Not the case. Some don't deserve to teach at all.

This film is equal parts inspiring and equal parts enraging. I was crying like a baby and clenching my fists. This film is a call to action and I hope enough people see it to make it come alive. It's a film that everyone needs to see, especially parents. Guggenheim continues to establish himself as one of the most relevant and vital filmmakers out there today and I cannot wait to see what he tackles next. 9/10.
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