Mixed or average reviews - based on 14 Critics What's this?

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  • Summary: If You Build It follows designer-activists Emily Pilloton and Matthew Miller to rural Bertie County, the poorest in North Carolina, where they work with local high school students to help transform both their community and their lives. Living on credit and grant money and fighting a change-resistant school board, Pilloton and Miller lead their students through a year-long, full-scale design and build project that does much more than just teach basic construction skills: it shows ten teenagers the power of design-thinking to re-invent not just their town but their own sense of what's possible. Collapse
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 14
  2. Negative: 0 out of 14
  1. 75
    An inspiring, educational, highly enjoyable documentary.
  2. Reviewed by: Walter Addiego
    Feb 27, 2014
    Director Patrick Creadon, who in 2006 made the entertaining "Wordplay," about crossword fanatics, probably errs on the side of advocacy here. But give him credit for acknowledging that idealistic endeavors don't always pay off.
  3. Reviewed by: Loren King
    Feb 27, 2014
    If this blend of community service, innovative teaching, and creative approach to design and construction sounds idealistic, the film’s final scenes deliver enough stress and sweat to show that idealism takes hard work, too.
  4. Reviewed by: Andrew Frisicano
    Jan 8, 2014
    Credit goes to Creadon for venturing beyond the classroom to look at how the teachers and students manage small victories despite limited resources.
  5. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Jan 9, 2014
    This honest and engrossing film shows how ingenuity and spark can restore excitement in education. That goal needs every helping hand it can get.
  6. Reviewed by: Nick Schager
    Jan 8, 2014
    Unfortunately, as with so many social-survey documentaries, the film’s macro view comes at the expense of any microcosmic depth.
  7. Reviewed by: Nicolas Rapold
    Jan 9, 2014
    The movie’s biggest weakness comes with its tendency to film people telling us what’s going on rather than having us observe.

See all 14 Critic Reviews