WAITING FOR SUPERMAN Review

It is something of a difficult line for me to walk when discussing documentaries. I am never anxious to see them, but once I do begin watching them, it is hard for me to peel my eyes away. A good documentary, given its challenges when placed against the type of film we have been conditioned to watch, is like reading an interesting news story. It is like watching a "48 Hours" or something along those lines. Taking real events, cold hard facts and forming them into a kind of linear story that could easily be looked at as the films plot. And while "Waiting for Superman" may not have stayed so close to the formula of making a documentary more like a feature film, its topic of discussion is so intriguing and so relevant in most peoples lives, it debates are hard to ignore.

And while anyone who has any idea how bad the state of the education system is right now, they may not know why or what we can do to begin correcting those problems. We have some serious issues and while this is the films strongest statement, what we are really looking into here is what is the root cause of this gigantic debacle. That while people can blame it on the students and the environment, but what the research proves is that a child does not go from being a 'B' student in the fourth grade to being a 'D' student in the sixth because they simply aren't trying. Something is off and a big part of that problem is teachers who don't care. How this documentary operates is following four individuals along a path of trying to further their education in schools where only so many spaces are available rather than moving onto what are known as "Drop-out factories". This is where we find the heart of the movie, this is how director Davis Guggenheim shows us this is not a problem we can easily forget. This is an issue that is effecting the children that will create our future world. How such simple desires are the most difficult things to accomplish.

While following these four children Guggenheim also stops by to take a look at the worst district in the country that also happens to be in Washington DC. And how a strong-willed super-intendent has even lost her faith in that she can possibly change things. That she can make them better. What do you do when a school fails your child? It is a hard question to ask and an even harder one to try to answer honestly. That teachers are given tenure after two years and can basically do whatever they want and not get fired makes no sense. That they are not paid due to the performance of their students. It is a seemingly simple aspect to resolve, but one that is made difficult by the selfish adults in the situation who care little about the true focus of education: the children. What is even worse is to get so aggravated at what seems like problems that could be solved with such common sense resolutions, yet everything is to diplomatic to be resolved the way it should. Guggenheim proposes an easy solution to an ever expanding problem, but his proof of what must be done doesn't even assure us we can change things. "Waiting for Superman" isn't necessarily an eye-opening experience but it is a call to duty and one that none the less, pulls at your heart strings. It is an intriguing film, but tragic in that it is all too real.