- Running time:
- 102 minutes
- Davis Guggenheim
- Official Movie Web Site:
- Overall User Rating:
- (267 ratings)
The U.S. education system is broken. Too many decisions are made to appease adults—teachers, parents, administrators, politicians. Most have little to do with actually helping children learn. This documentary gets to the core of the problems by profiling five kids currently in schools across the country. And, rather than sitting around waiting for a superhero to swoop in and solve the problems, focuses on key examples of how things can improve.
The buzz: Davis Guggenheim, director of influential global warming doc “An Inconvenient Truth,” understands the power and reach a documentary can have. Of course, most docs only make a ripple at the box office—if they’re lucky. But “Superman” won the documentary audience award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and inspired Oprah Winfrey to spend two episodes of her show promoting it. No doubt it has a shot at following “Truth’s” path to mainstream success.
The verdict: No matter where you’re coming from, “Waiting for Superman” is an essential film. If you don’t think you have a reason to care about education, Guggenheim’s accessible, informative and emotional portrayal of kids, their parents and heroic education mavericks will compel you to care. If you’re already invested in the subject, you’ll want to see the streamlined, impassioned way Guggenheim tackles the frustrating complexities of the system and how he presents exciting, realistic solutions. The film isn’t simply about education, it’s a cinematic representation of the value and importance of education. The more you learn, the more you care. Your heart may break watching “Waiting for Superman,” but the film’s inspiring and urgent message is that understanding problems becomes the first step toward fixing them. And when that means a better future for us all, the significance couldn’t be more obvious.
Did you know? There are already signs “Waiting for Superman” is making a difference, or at least that people are taking education reform seriously. New York City’s so-called “rubber rooms” (where teachers awaiting disciplinary hearings would go to collect paychecks for not working—sometimes for months on end) have been closed. And Washington DC Chancellor Michelle Rhee is making good on her tough talk in the movie, but also stirring up headline making controversy in the process.