“The Ultimate Movie Review!”
“Education Is More Precious Than Gold”
The movie goes right to the heart in focusing on the fates of some irresistibly real kids and the loving, frustrated parents and grandparents who care for them.
Lisa Schwarzbaum - Entertainment Weekly
A powerful and alarming documentary about America's failing public school system.
Stephen Holden - New York Times
As divisive as the issue has become, it's hard to deny the power of Guggenheim's lingering shots on these children, waiting on a superhero who isn't going to come.
Scott Bowles - USA Today
Waiting for 'Superman,' filmmaker Davis Guggenheim's scathing, moving critique of American public education, makes you actually want to do something after you dry your eyes.
Michael O'Sullivan - Washington Post
It's meant to infuriate you and break your heart enough that you feel compelled to do something. There's a great deal of agit with very little prop.
Wesley Morris - Boston Globe
Guggenheim's insistence on not engaging with the injustices that children of certain races and classes face outside of school makes his reiteration of the obvious... seem all the more willfully naive.
Melissa Anderson - Village Voice
This is a time when urgent issues are often explored in polemic documentaries, as well as a fateful moment when the future of public education is being debated with unprecedented intensity. Waiting for 'Superman' makes an invaluable addition to the debate
Joe Morgenstern - Wall Street Journal
Waiting for 'Superman' won't satisfy anyone looking for a five-point plan. (It won't win many fans among teachers' unions, either.) On the other hand, if it's effective filmmaking you're after, look no further.
Chris Vognar - Dallas Morning News
... emotionally engaging, as hopeful and honest as it is wrenching and moving.
James Rocchi - MSN Movies
We need another movie, one that shows us why some charter schools work and others dont.
David Denby - New Yorker
The film demonstrates (1) that quality education is possible for even the most disadvantaged students; (2) the cost is low, considering that high school dropouts often turn to crime when they can't find good jobs.
Roger Ebert - Chicago Sun-Times
An admirable exercise in straight talk, especially in its tough assessment of the mediocrity-enforcing teachers' unions.
J. R. Jones - Chicago Reader
As Guggenheim's camera gives us a close-up of the Educational Lotto, the implication is clear: Why gamble on the future of America's children? Instead of helping some kids beat the odds, how do we change the odds for all kids?
Carrie Rickey - Philadelphia Inquirer
The fact that most charters fare no better than regular public schools, or do worse, is only glancingly mentioned.
Colin Covert - Minneapolis Star Tribune
Davis easily ties a sick education system to a sick society. But when it comes down to it, in the end he has no clear cure for what ails us. At the very least, though, he has exposed the disease for all to see.
Tom Long - Detroit News
Exhilarating, heartbreaking and righteous, Waiting for Superman is also a kind of high-minded thriller: Can the American education system be cured?
John Anderson - Variety
Reform is not that hard, Guggenheim concludes. We know what makes for a good school: quality teachers. All we need is to bring in strong teachers to replace the weakest.
Kyle Smith - New York Post
There is no question that this is compelling viewing, especially considering the largely abstract and policy-driven nature of the crisis.
Geoff Pevere - Toronto Star
The heartbreak among children denied a proper education is irrefutable.
Guy Dixon - Globe and Mail
Guggenheim does not seem aware that extensive educational research has failed to identify what makes a "great teacher" or how to train one, nor that there are strikingly different and conflicting strategies for teaching literacy.
Andrew O'Hehir - Salon.com
You leave the film convinced that radical change is necessary but uncomfortable with the closing voice-over that assures you how simple it will be to implement it.
Dana Stevens - Slate
Davis Guggenheim tells some inconvenient truths about public education in compelling new doc.
John DeFore - Hollywood Reporter
This is more than an Important Documentary: it is engaging and, finally, enraging -- as captivating as any Superman movie, and as poignant as a child's plea for help.
Richard Corliss - TIME Magazine
This movie isn't just a necessity (listen up, do-nothing politicians) - it might change your future.
Peter Travers - Rolling Stone
Overlooks some larger issues regarding systemic poverty and social inequities, while the tricky matter of private funding is elided altogether.
Sean Burns - Philadelphia Weekly
More overwhelming than uplifting, and you can't help but feel this is a rich outsider looking in, and down on, public schools.
Roger Moore - Movie Nation
Intelligent and thought-provoking, this documentary may not be one of the best movies of the year but it's surely one of the most important ones.
John Hanlon - Big Hollywood
Brent Simon - Shared Darkness
Waiting For Superman is at times powerful, often tragic and -- at the very end -- incredibly moving.
Simon Reynolds - Digital Spy
Like all topical documentaries with a worthy approach, it encourages awareness and debate about yet another inconvenient truth.
Dan Gear - Moviedex
It's still a vital topic for discussion and worth seeing if only because it organizes a few focal points for ongoing public debate.
Dave White - Movies.com
It's possible that one of the reasons why the film wasn't nominated for a best-documentary Oscar was because it was too horrifying.
Jim Schembri - The Age (Australia)
The superhero metaphor enables some synergistic retro TV series footage but it doesn't quite suit the argument.
Fiona Williams - sbs.com.au
I'm sure some will disagree with the points that Davis Guggenheim is making. That's to be expected but it will help generate a badly needed debate on this subject matter.
Matthew Toomey - ABC Radio Brisbane
I wish Guggenheim had - as he did in The First Year - stepped back, followed these families, and let their stories speak for themselves...Still ... the raw materials are there, and it would take a heart of stone to not sympathise with the subjects.
Simon Miraudo - Quickflix
While there are gaps left uncanvassed, this remains an absorbing exploration of a crucial issue which not only exposes problems, but offers answers.
Annette Basile - FILMINK (Australia)
Just as he passionately got stuck into Al Gore's global warming theories in An Inconvenient Truth, Davis Guggenheim explores the US school system in an expose of its appalling inadequacies... an excellent and sobering documentary
Louise Keller - Urban Cinefile
Waiting for "Superman" is essential viewing. It's as simple as that...Most importantly, it is impossible not to be touched, nay, radicalised by this devastatingly inconvenient truth.
Alice Tynan - Concrete Playground
... a close look at the current (US education) system is all it takes to consider making a real change.
Kevin A. Ranson - MovieCrypt.com
The audience of the public school system documentary Waiting for "Superman" is either supposed to get depressed into action, enraged into action, or overwhelmed into inaction
Jordan Hiller - Bangitout.com
I'd suggest watching the movie just to be able to get a picture of what's going on in your head, and then following up with further research afterwards.
Jeffrey Chen - Window to the Movies
'Waiting for Superman' is an important yet definitely flawed discourse on the current courses America's public educational system is taking, making, faking and breaking.
John Esther - UR Chicago Magazine
Has the power to surprise, enrage, and even delight the most cynical of educators and education bashers.
Bruce Bennett - Spectrum (St. George, Utah)
There I sat, alone in the theater, watching what may very well be the most important movie of the year, if not the decade. To say that the documentary 'Waiting for Superman' has played to a small audience is an exercise in understatement.
Linda Cook - KWQC-TV (Iowa)
While it may not be comprehensive in its approach, it is powerful enough to get all but the most apathetic people stirred up enough to do something.
Robert Roten - Laramie Movie Scope
Guggenheim painted a similarly apocalyptic tale of the future in An Inconvenient Truth; once again, he shows a knack for presenting otherwise dry facts and figures in both a simple and dramatic way, combining them with heart- rending human stories.
Tony Horkins - Total Film
In the end, this is scattergun film-making, well-intentioned but sloppy, sometimes deliberately evasive. If this documentary were an exam essay, I'd fail it.
Sukhdev Sandhu - Daily Telegraph
A hectoring, simplistic affair that has nothing of value to contribute to the British debate.
You know you're in an endangered superpower when a vice-president who spells "potatos" without an "e" is followed two decades later by a president for whom the plural of child is "childrens".
Nigel Andrews - Financial Times
An intriguing but ultimately niche documentary about the Catch-22 situation facing parents in the matter of their child's education.
Damon Wise - Radio Times
...a persuasive, thoughtful argument; an advocacy film that should be taken as an opportunity to open an important conversation about our future - and whether we're willing to do the work necessary to justify our national amour-propre.
Philip Martin - Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Tells us little we don't already know about why most schools need to be fixed.
Dennis Schwartz - Ozus' World Movie Reviews
The way Guggenheim builds up suspense by, in effect, watching the life or death (in the film's terms) of five kids decided at random is a little sickening.
Rob Gonsalves - eFilmCritic.com
Although the movie has an extremely retrograde viewpoint, it is a must-see for those trying to understand the hype around charter schools.
Louis Proyect - rec.arts.movies.reviews
A potent mixture of facts and figures and heart-tugging stories.
Eric D. Snider - EricDSnider.com
Almost certainly going to end up on the short list for this year's Best Documentary Oscar.
Ken Hanke - Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Everyone interested in the welfare of children and the future of our country should see it.
Susan Granger - www.susangranger.com
An Oscar-quality expose' laying the blame for the escalating dropout rate right at the feet of a greedy and selfish teachers' union which could care less about educating the country's kids.
Kam Williams - TheLoop21.com
The film, while preachy at times and overly simplistic at others, represents a necessary and often maddening look at an important issue.
Stephen Silver - The Trend
... a thought-provoking call to arms.
Jim Lane - Sacramento News & Review
It's impossible not to be left either elated or heartbroken, depending on which way the (lottery) ball bounces.
Matt Brunson - Creative Loafing
This important, gut-wrenching film debuted at the Sundance Film Festival and won the Audience Award for Best Documentary. It looks to be a strong candidate to duplicate that feat at the Academy Awards.
Keith Cohen - Entertainment Spectrum
It may be the case that Guggenheim is a better instigator than filmmaker, as the debate about our educational system appears to be on the upswing at present. For this.... Waiting for 'Superman' is essential viewing.
Marjorie Baumgarten - Austin Chronicle
Waiting for 'Superman' isn't just a well-made, persuasive documentary. It's a turning point. At least you come out of the theater hoping so.
Robert W. Butler - Kansas City Star
Interesting and touching.
Clint O'Connor - Cleveland Plain Dealer
Go see it, and then talk about it. But don't necessarily buy into it.
Rob Thomas - Wisconsin State Journal
steadily builds to an effective, spellbinding, conclusion
Christopher Null - Filmcritic.com
Change? Hope? Action? Well, there's a number you can text at the end of the film for that. Gee, thanks, Mr. Guggenheim.
Brian Orndorf - BrianOrndorf.com
Waiting for "Superman" is the movie version of all those books and white papers about flaws in the U.S. educational system that we're generally too illiterate or lazy to read.
Steve Persall - Tampa Bay Times
Waiting for 'Superman' doesn't have the answers. But it does know the questions.
Duane Dudek - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Guggenheim has been justly criticized for not giving teachers and their unions more time to explain themselves in the film. On the other hand, he lets politicians and governmental policies off the hook too lightly.
Beth Accomando - KPBS.org
A catalyst for revolution.
Danny Minton - Fort Bend Sun
Our public schools are failing. That's not a shock right? While children are our future, I wanted a little more solutions and inspiration from this documentary.
Jeff Bayer - The Scorecard Review
Guggenheim knows how to hit that sweet spot, where the head and heart meet, and where great ideas begin to transform into action.
Alison Gang - San Diego Union-Tribune
Your heart goes out to all these kids, but Guggenheim's take on education stacks the deck against them even further by implying that only charters offer a ray of hope. Would that it were that simple.
Peter Rainer - Christian Science Monitor
Given that this is his third first-rate documentary in a mere four years, Guggenheim may very well be in contention for his own title of "Superman" of the 21st Century Documentary. No cape required.
Kimberly Gadette - Indie Movies Online
Waiting for Superman might as well be titled An Inconvenient Truth: The Sequel. Like Guggenheim?s previous, Oscar-winning documentary, this is yet another horror film in the guise of a documentary.
Brandon Fibbs - BrandonFibbs.com
It's just an advertisement for boarding the Good Intentions Express, bound for... I don't know where. And neither does Davis Guggenheim.
Tim Brayton - Antagony & Ecstasy
...empowers its viewers through a masterful mixture of knowledge and art.
Josh Larsen - LarsenOnFilm
Superman is a polished piece of advocacy filmmaking, even if it lacks the rock-star charisma of Al Gore.
Marc Mohan - Oregonian
By focusing on these five kids and their hopeful families, Waiting for Superman puts a human face on a crisis worthy of a superhero.
Rene Rodriguez - Miami Herald
A powerful story of despair and hopelessness on behalf of the students who are stuck in crumbling, poorly-administered schools.
Jeanne Kaplan - Kaplan vs. Kaplan
Like all good documentaries, "Waiting for Superman" is entertaining and contains just enough suspense to maintain our interest throughout.
David Kaplan - Kaplan vs. Kaplan
Guggenheim's thesis that bad schools create bad neighbourhoods and not vice versa is interesting, if perhaps simplistic.
Jim Slotek - Jam! Movies
Documentarian Davis Guggenheim petitions the same level of cultural awareness about American education myths as his film "An Inconvenient Truth" delivered regarding Global Warming.
Cole Smithey - ColeSmithey.com
The young students' stories are surely Waiting for 'Superman''s most effective strategy, but it's hard not to wonder at how they are being used in such a slick enterprise.
Cynthia Fuchs - PopMatters
Not only is the film an eye-opening, perfectly put together documentary, it also engages the audiences with spectacular animations and a gripping narrative.
Kevin McCarthy - BDK Reviews
Completely engaging and packing a surprising emotional wallop. (Parental Review also Available)
Jim Judy - Screen It!
It's not the whole picture, but it's a compelling part of it.
Chris Hewitt (St. Paul) - St. Paul Pioneer Press
Davis Guggenheim's big-buzz doc is an emotionally charged movie that's mercifully free of the education-debate jargon that causes me to lapse into a narcoleptic coma.
Gary Thompson - Philadelphia Daily News
In purely cinematic terms, it's an effective call to arms, though one susceptible to charges of oversimplification.
Frank Swietek - One Guy's Opinion
...Guggenheim humanizes his film by following five students and not all of them are really all that compelling.
Laura Clifford - Reeling Reviews
A damning indictment of a failed system, a document offering hope, and a fervent call to action.
Mark Dujsik - Mark Reviews Movies
The photography and editing are accomplished, and the filmmaker frequently resorts to animation and other tricks to make his subject more palatable.
Walter V. Addiego - San Francisco Chronicle
Guggenheim succeeds in asking tough questions. At the end of the film, after he's made us root for these kids and worry about the state of our schools, he asks: "Did we do the right thing? Did we do enough?"
Linda Shaw - Seattle Times
If you were wondering about the state of our education system, Davis Guggenheim's documentary won't make you feel very optimistic.
Tom Meek - Boston Phoenix
Thought-provoking docu uncovers educational challenges.
S. Jhoanna Robledo - Common Sense Media
Guggenheim wants you to know that he has an education problem, and that you should too.
Matthew Connolly - Slant Magazine
Well-edited, heartfelt and captivating, but not thorough or well-balanced enough to be truly enlightening.
Avi Offer - NYC Movie Guru
Controversy is already swirling around this powerful and important documentary exposing the shocking state of America's educational system and vividly demonstrating how it is failing the nation and devastating the lives of individual families.
Shirley Sealy - Film Journal International
Guggenheim articulates the issues facing public education, offers the solutions presented by his various subjects and, through the journeys of these five kids, raises awareness in a powerful manner.
Steve Ramos - Boxoffice Magazine
An "important" film, and I don't use that word lightly. A thoughtfully crafted first volley in a debate/discussion we simply cannot avoid.
Brett McCracken - Christianity Today
Johnny can't read or add, but he has boundless self-esteem. Is the glass one-third full or three-quarters empty? Would Johnny know the difference?
Steven D. Greydanus - Christianity Today
Reaching an audience is an uphill struggle in a country that's more interested in knowing the new judges on American Idol than what's happening in its local schools.
Marshall Fine - Hollywood & Fine
Waiting For Superman may rub a little raw here and there, but if it stirs that memory in enough voting and tax-paying Americans, it has at least begun to do its job.
Michelle Orange - Movieline
Is our children learning? No -- and here's why, argues Davis Guggenheim's rousing documentary
Amy Nicholson - I.E. Weekly
A serious and sobering documentary about reforming American education and taking bold steps in new directions with charter schools where excellence is heralded and love of learning a given
Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat - Spirituality and Practice
Superman can sometimes feel more like a lecture and an info-dump than a gripping narrative, but to his credit, Guggenheim never lets us forget the high, human stakes involved in saving public schools from themselves.
Nathan Rabin - AV Club
If you don't think you have a reason to care about education, [Davis] Guggenheim's accessible, informative and emotional portrayal ... will compel you to care.
Geoff Berkshire - Metromix.com
'Superman' is about the personal stories of children at risk, regardless of the politics that will be argued for ions.
Clay Cane - BET.com
The plentiful pop-doc touches ensure that this wake-up call won't put you to sleep, even if the ratio of spoonfuls of sugar to medicine occasionally seems skewed.
David Fear - Time Out
a smart piece of agit-prop that picks the right targets and hits those targets with precise aim.
Drew McWeeny - rec.arts.movies.reviews
The honesty of children is sobering. You see first graders without any ego or melodrama, yet talking about what school isn't giving them, there's your story right there.
Fred Topel - Screen Junkies
This is one of the most galvanizing documentaries I've ever seen.
Works well enough as a basic primer on how our education system got so damn broken, but also offers some hope for the future of American education.
Scott Weinberg - Cinematical