Generally favorable reviews - based on 32 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 32
  2. Negative: 0 out of 32
  1. 100
    Not just a thriller, not just a social commentary, not just a comedy or a romance, but all of those in a clearly seen, brilliantly made film.
  2. In some ways, this is "The Graduate" gone to "Lord of the Flies."
  3. 88
    Lin is a talent to watch. There's a sting to this film that gets to you.
  4. 88
    Typically, movies aimed at teenage audiences have little concern for things like intelligent scripts, credible characters, and meaningful dialogue. Better Luck Tomorrow contains all three, making it a hugely rewarding experience.
  5. Lin energizes the grungy palette with stylistic zing, a hopped-up pace and understated humor. His cast carves out vivid characters and the open-ended aftermath takes stock of the moral scarring without moralizing.
  6. It has the virtue of Lin's tangy wit but it also suffers from the vice of a director who, torn between personal vision and wide public reach, tends to smother his ideas under a veneer of cool.
  7. 80
    Mr. Lin makes the anxious grasping of these kids for some kind of emotional turf -- their own need to shatter the stereotypes that bind them -- the heart of Better Luck Tomorrow, a scenario that keeps the movie's blood racing.
  8. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Lin's nicely turned out picture is sometimes both predictable and a bit far-fetched narratively, but still provides a generally absorbing look at a slice of society normally taken for granted, both in life and onscreen.
  9. Breathes new life into a familiar story: coming of age in high school.
  10. "Rebel Without a Cause" with a debate club, Better Luck Tomorrow is a sharp, smart slice of suburban angst among the high school overachiever set.
  11. 75
    Bracing and stylish thriller.
  12. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Well-crafted, Tarantino-esque story.
  13. Lin works with a rhythmic observational flair that outweighs the movie's flaws. It's a long way from Long Duk Dong.
  14. 75
    Has a vitality and novelty rare in any youth movie, let alone one that claps fresh eyes on a cliched vision of a model minority.
  15. What helps Lin's feature-directing debut is his insight into the dark side of living up to "model minority" stereotypes in a materialistic culture.
  16. 75
    The same premise could have been turned into a satirical comedy, but Better Luck Tomorrow opts for a more corrosive, challenging route, one whose troubling, morally ambiguous ending offers no easy resolution.
  17. Although this movie shows Lin's promising moviemaking sensibilities, its point of view feels coldly amoral and dismissive.
  18. The performances are strong without calling attention to themselves--which is more than I can say for the occasionally hackneyed use of rock on the sound track.
  19. 70
    A rare high school dramedy with some heft to it. Smartly photographed and edited, it manages to walk the difficult tightrope strung between the typically loopy coming of age film and a simmering disaster in the making.
  20. 67
    A film that merges cocaine, Ivy League, college applications, the Asian American experience, dark comedy and high school drama while maintaining a personal tone and likable lead characters is just too impressive to knock.
  21. Like his characters, Lin may be an overachiever and the strain of trying to do too much shows. He merges genres the way Ben juggles extracurricular activities.
  22. Good idea for a movie about rebellious Asian Americans doesn't fully pan out.
  23. 60
    Though it doesn't fully transcend its small budget (the lighting is dingy), the story feels rooted in something more solid than prefab posturing.
  24. 60
    Follows a consistently predictable arc. In some sequences, you can tell not just what's going to happen next, but what shot is coming next. And the movie's weird mixture of moralism and affectlessness cancel each other out.
  25. It almost plays like a darkly comic "Peanuts" special.
  26. The film lacks a single emotionally authentic moment.
  27. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    The end result is a series of stylish vignettes, some entertaining and all variations on essentially the same theme.
  28. The crime isn't that the movie's message is amoral, but that it goes totally unexamined, as if the recess bell rang too early.
  29. Reviewed by: Ed Park
    Seeing BLT has been positioned as a political act. Alas: The film in question seems hardly worth the fuss.
  30. 40
    uUltimately Better Luck Tomorrow feels nearly as hollow and unknowable as its characters’ hearts.
  31. 40
    Perhaps the worst thing that could be said about Better Luck Tomorrow is that, on a slow night, it's easy to imagine these delinquents wanting to rent a film just like it.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 31 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 24
  2. Negative: 5 out of 24
  1. Apr 3, 2013
    The crazy jackrabbit character. Seen it. The smooth criminal operator. Seen it. Stealing stuff easily through an inside job. Seen it. TheThe crazy jackrabbit character. Seen it. The smooth criminal operator. Seen it. Stealing stuff easily through an inside job. Seen it. The protagonist that wants out but can't get out. Seen it. Simply a movie that drags itself along by shooting cliche after cliche. Full Review »
  2. DasP
    Jun 27, 2009
    A great, accurate movie. the scary part is that I know that myself and my fellow Asians feel Ben's anger and frustration quite often, A great, accurate movie. the scary part is that I know that myself and my fellow Asians feel Ben's anger and frustration quite often, and sometimes all the time. Full Review »