Blu-Ray Review: ‘Waiting For Superman’ Presents Bleak Picture of Public Education

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionE-mail page to friendE-mail page to friendPDF versionPDF version
No votes yet

CHICAGO – Davis Guggenheim was crowned one of the Kings of the new documentary movement when his “An Inconvenient Truth” won the Oscar for its category but the follow-up, a scathing look at the public education system, failed to make the cut after a wave of controversy hit the film like a melting glacier. How much of the drama surrounding “Superman” — some of which went as far as to suggest that facts in the film were wrong and that case studies of children were faked — was deserved and how much was blown out of proportion? Rent or buy the film, now on DVD and Blu-ray, and decide for yourself. Blu-Ray Rating: 4.0/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 3.5/5.0

Unlike “Inconvenient,” Guggenheim makes “Waiting For Superman” into something of a personal piece, detailing how he always thought he’d send his kids to public school but now drives by them to go to private ones. Why? What happened to our education system? Guggenheim’s film points several fingers but most of them come back to a system that has grown so out of control that it’s nicknamed The Blob. Tenured teachers, no matter how awful, can’t be fired and are just shuffled from dropout factory to dropout factory. No one is willing to stand up and fix a system that seems too out of control to fix.

Waiting For Superman was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on February 15th, 2011
Waiting For Superman was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on February 15th, 2011
Photo credit: Paramount Home Video

While we’d all agree that there’s little in this world that’s more important than the education of our children, “Waiting For Superman” proved to be a pretty-divisive documentary. The fact is that education is the foundation of any modern society and yet it’s also something people are nervous to dissect or criticize. People feel torn when they feel that good teachers are being lumped in with bad ones. It’s not all or nothing. I’ll never understand why teachers get so defensive. Wouldn’t weeding out the bad ones make the good ones even more appreciated?

The bigger controversy around “Superman” was when people started to report that the other half of the film, in which Guggenheim followed children trying to get into better schools, might have had some dramatic license. Honestly, I was a bit disappointed at first but then realized that to dismiss the film for that would be to throw the baby out with the bathwater. The points that Guggenheim makes in “Waiting For Superman” are still relevant and arguably more crucial to our nation’s future than anything else. Whatever you think of the film, it MUST raise discussion because if we don’t talk about these issues then Superman will never come.

“From the Academy Award-winning Director of An Inconvenient Truth comes the groundbreaking feature film that provides an engaging and inspiring look at public education in the United States. Waiting For “Superman” has helped launch a movement to achieve a real and lasting change through the compelling stories of five unforgettable students such as Emily, a Silicon Valley eighth-grader who is afraid of being labeled as unfit for college and Francisco, a Bronx first-grader whose mom will do anything to give him a shot at a better life. Waiting For “Superman” will leave a lasting and powerful impression that you will want to share with your friends and family.”

Special Features:
o Four Additional Inspiring Teacher/Student Stories
o The Making of Shine: The Film’s Title Track By Musician John Legend
o A Conversation with Director David Guggenheim
o And More!

‘Waiting For Superman’ was directed by Davis Guggenheim. It was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on February 15th, 2011. It is rated PG and runs 111 minutes. content director Brian Tallerico

Content Director

User Login

Free Giveaway Mailing


  • Prodigal Daughter, The

    CHICAGO – One of the open secrets of Chicago is its horrible racist past, which remains like an echo. Playwright Joshua Allen has been exploring this theme in his Grand Boulevard Trilogy – the last chapter talking place during the infamous 1919 race riots – in Raven Theatre’s “The Prodigal Daughter.” For tickets and info, click TPD.

  • Michael Shannon and Travis A. Knight, Red Orchid's TURRET

    CHICAGO – When in the presence of a powerful acting force like Michael Shannon, the depth of performance is emotional and passionately essential. He co-leads with Travis A. Knight in Red Orchid Theatre’s World Premiere of Levi Holloway’s “Turret,” just extended to June 22nd at the Chopin Theatre.

Advertisement on Twitter

archive Top Ten Discussions