Maybe once a year, a documentary will somehow break through the mass of superhero sequel remakes, prestige Oscar bait, and movies that star Meryl Streep to become a genuine popular success. These films tend to run in two directions: Political-flavored provocations (Bowling for Columbine, An Inconvenient Truth, and Super Size Me), or triumph-of-the-human-spirit cute-porn (Spellbound, Young@Heart, and March of the Penguins). But how about a documentary that combines the two approaches: A film that makes an important societal point, while also making you cry happy inspirational tears? How about a film like Waiting for Superman? (See trailer embedded below.)
Everyone knows that the American education system is broken. (If you don’t think so, watch season 4 of The Wire.) Part of me is just excited about the chance to see how a smart documentarian like Davis Guggenheim approaches the issue. The trailer definitely piques my interest with an appearance by Bill Gates and tough-talking D.C. School Chancellor Michelle Rhee, as well as with the intriguing factoid that the youth of America has never been more confident, despite (or because of?) declining literacy.
But I gotta be honest – part of me just wants to see Chicken Soup for the Education-Nerd’s Soul. I was lucky enough to have parents who valued education, but the sight of adolescents struggling to get by in difficult school conditions is genuinely inspiring. When young Anthony says, “I want my kids to have better than what I have,” he’s expressing one of the most selfless human ideals — the urge to make life better for those who come after you. It’s an ideal that we could all take to heart.
What do you think, PopWatchers? Will you see Waiting for Superman? And does this totally make you forget about Babies, or what?