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Running Time:
1 hour, 42 minutes

Rating: PG Parental Guidance Suggested.

Rating Explanation:
for some thematic material, mild language and incidental smoking.

Jimmy's Buzz Guide Review:
An exhilarating, informative and heartbreaking documentary about America's public schools.

Waiting for Superman
Waiting for "Superman" starring Bianca: DVD Cover Both compelling, and inspiring, Waiting for Superman  (the title refers to a child's dream of being rescued) takes a sobering look at the education system in the United States today. Documentary filmmaker Davis Guggenheim  ("An Inconvenient Truth")  asks a few simple but angry questions, like, how can one of the richest and most privileged countries in the world fail so completely at educating its children? How long must we wait before someone comes up with a plan that actually works? Why do so many politicians promise education reforms, but never have managed to follow through? And, perhaps most importantly, what can a dedicated parent actually do to help ensure their kids a decent education?

Guggenheim makes his points by introducing us to all sorts of people who are directly affected by our floundering education system, and for the most part, it's not a pretty picture. We meet Washington D.C. Education Chief Michelle Rhee, who has some revolutionary new ideas on how to keep teachers inspired, but the teachers' union fights her. And we meet Harlem's Geoffrey Canada whose successful Children's Zone schools have not only diagnosed the problems but successfully overcome them in one of the most underprivileged areas in the United States. We also get to know a handful of great kids, all of whom seem smart and sweet and dedicated, but there simply isn't enough room for all of them in the schools they dream of entering. 

We also see some hard-working educators who are sincerely and passionately dedicated to teaching our children, but are constantly short on resources, egregiously underpaid, and unacceptably under-appreciated. Guggenheim captures it all: the overworked and well-intentioned teachers, the beleaguered bureaucrats, the desperate parents, and the confused kids. And it offers some ideas and hopes for the future of American education.

Full of refreshingly honest insights and some powerfully upsetting statistics, the film seems angry and critical, but never hopeless. We'd like to think that every kid in America has his own fair shot at a strong education ... but we know they don't. And that's really not fair.


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