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Generally favorable reviews - based on 15 Critics What's this?

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  • Summary: This intimate documentary follows the 12-year journey of two African-American families as they navigate the ups and downs of educating their sons.
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 15
  2. Negative: 0 out of 15
  1. Reviewed by: Ernest Hardy
    Oct 24, 2013
    The film ends on up notes, but its strength is that it's not really a feel-good movie, instead shining a light on both how far we have come in terms of race in America and how very far we still have to go.
  2. Reviewed by: Duane Byrge
    Oct 21, 2013
    American Promise shows the emotional toll that each boy endures, not only from the image that their privileged peers have of minority males but, accordingly, their own lack of confidence.
  3. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Oct 24, 2013
    Because the stories are so specific, and because they play out over such a long period of time, it is hard not to be fascinated by this intimate look at how particular families deal with the great parental challenge of shepherding their children through the all-important educational experience.
  4. Reviewed by: Ben Kenigsberg
    Oct 16, 2013
    Ultimately, American Promise seems split between a personal perspective and a broader one. It’s a bold experiment that’s also a textbook case of filmmakers being too close to their material.
  5. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Oct 25, 2013
    Despite the film’s intentions, Idris and Seun can’t really stand in for anybody but themselves. What they go through, as middle-class kids in a privileged school system, seems far less race-based than the filmmakers would have us believe.
  6. Reviewed by: Farran Smith Nehme
    Oct 17, 2013
    It’s a baggy movie, with some things (such as whether Idris taking Ritalin in high school improved his performance) unexplained, and it may appeal most to those raising kids themselves.
  7. Reviewed by: Walter Addiego
    Nov 14, 2013
    By the end you can't help but wonder whether it was a good idea to keep the youngsters under camera scrutiny for more than 12 years.

See all 15 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 0 out of
  2. Mixed: 0 out of
  3. Negative: 0 out of