• Studio:
  • Release Date: Feb 7, 2014
Metascore
75

Generally favorable reviews - based on 17 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 17
  2. Negative: 1 out of 17
  1. Reviewed by: Chris Nashawaty
    Feb 27, 2014
    91
    [A] harrowing documentary.
  2. Reviewed by: Inkoo Kang
    Mar 6, 2014
    90
    A vital, urgent and infuriating look at the devastating failures of the juvenile court system and the insidious reach of prison privatization.
  3. Reviewed by: Jeannette Catsoulis
    Feb 27, 2014
    90
    Carefully assembled and soberly presented, Robert May’s Kids for Cash takes a lacerating look at America’s juvenile justice system.
  4. Reviewed by: Alan Scherstuhl
    Feb 25, 2014
    90
    The documentary is stellar, despite some vague visual-metaphor stuff involving dioramas in an attic. Bring something you can punch, as you will be furious.
  5. Reviewed by: Frank Scheck
    Jan 20, 2014
    90
    A real-life thriller that rivals the most dramatic fiction in terms of emotional impact.
  6. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Feb 27, 2014
    88
    An impressive, often enraging feature-length debut from director Robert May, deals carefully and well with the so-called kids for cash scandal.
  7. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Feb 25, 2014
    88
    Kids for Cash is no-nonsense, no-stone-unturned filmmaking.
  8. Reviewed by: A.A. Dowd
    Feb 26, 2014
    83
    What May is really after, in other words, is a glimpse at a post-Columbine America, where punishments don’t always fit crimes, cures are often worse than diseases, and the courts are frequently being used as a catchall solution to very normal discipline problems.
  9. Reviewed by: Trey Graham
    Feb 28, 2014
    80
    Robert May, a producer on "The Station Agent" and "The Fog of War," makes his directing debut with a carefully measured, admirably precise account of this sordid business.
  10. Reviewed by: Ronnie Scheib
    Jan 20, 2014
    80
    The film represents a scathing critique of America’s juvenile justice system, the privatization of penal institutions, and the whole notion of “zero tolerance.”
  11. Reviewed by: Stephanie Merry
    Mar 6, 2014
    75
    Kids for Cash proves that the abuse was both more nuanced and more tragic than the public understood.
  12. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Feb 7, 2014
    75
    Kids for Cash may not be inherently cinematic (a lot of the footage, after all, first appeared on television) but it is compelling.
  13. 70
    I’d liked him to have asked the judge specifically about the MySpace girl, whose case led to his comeuppance. But it’s a huge story, and Kids for Cash provides a measure of justice.
  14. Reviewed by: Bill Stamets
    Feb 27, 2014
    63
    May errs in styling this human interest saga.
  15. Reviewed by: Elizabeth Weitzman
    Feb 27, 2014
    60
    It’s worth seeing Robert May’s vital judicial expose — not only to learn about the titular scandal, but also to appreciate both the highs and lows of human resilience.
  16. Reviewed by: Keith Uhlich
    Feb 25, 2014
    60
    May’s biggest get, however, is Ciavarella himself—a man forever rationalizing his shady actions, who emerges as a more complexly tragic figure than you’d think possible.
  17. Reviewed by: Andrew Lapin
    Feb 25, 2014
    30
    A heavy-breathing, narrowly focused outrage-generator about a corruption case that both the court of public opinion and the actual court system have already agreed was outrageous.

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