Waiting for 'Superman'

User Score
7.4

Generally favorable reviews- based on 47 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 39 out of 47
  2. Negative: 4 out of 47

Where To Watch

Stream On
Stream On

Review this movie

  1. Your Score
    0 out of 10
    Rate this:
    • 10
    • 9
    • 8
    • 7
    • 6
    • 5
    • 4
    • 3
    • 2
    • 1
    • 0
    • 0
  1. Submit
  2. Check Spelling

User Reviews

  1. Dec 14, 2011
    6
    Waiting for 'Superman' may thematically be one of the most important documentaries in recent U.S. history. The educational system is in dire need of help, and this film provides clear alternatives and points out who is to blame for the lack of willingness to cooperate and rejuvenate the system. Technically, the film is not that great. It is very long, and it lacks cohesion. It is all overWaiting for 'Superman' may thematically be one of the most important documentaries in recent U.S. history. The educational system is in dire need of help, and this film provides clear alternatives and points out who is to blame for the lack of willingness to cooperate and rejuvenate the system. Technically, the film is not that great. It is very long, and it lacks cohesion. It is all over the place and while it focuses on a number of families, it is still too large in scope. The D.C. focus is nice, but is not substantiate by any reasoning behind it. Was it because it was a success story? Or was it because it was D.C.? Or some other reason? Nonetheless, it has some good moments, and the ending sequences of the acceptance lottery are heartbreaking to say the least. Thematically excellent, technically not quite there. Good film, overall. 6/10 Expand
  2. Feb 22, 2013
    5
    Waiting For "Superman" is an inside look at the problems with education in America. The film is extremely eye-opening, showing just how bad a state most of our education systems are in. They clearly illustrate that no matter the area, teachers are failing America's youth at an alarming rate. I found the film to be very biased though, as it only points out what's wrong with the system, andWaiting For "Superman" is an inside look at the problems with education in America. The film is extremely eye-opening, showing just how bad a state most of our education systems are in. They clearly illustrate that no matter the area, teachers are failing America's youth at an alarming rate. I found the film to be very biased though, as it only points out what's wrong with the system, and fails to mention any of the positives that still exist in education. It also fails to offer solutions for the problems. Guggenheim throws lots of facts and figures at us and repeats the same themes. It gets to a point where he's just beating us over the head with the same concepts. Many people saw this as an inspirational call to action, but me, I saw it as a guy complaining. Honestly, if you can't offer up a solution than why present the problem? I'm pretty sure that almost everyone in America knows how bad education has gotten, even if they don't have the exact figures in front of them. Expand
  3. Oct 30, 2010
    5
    "Waiting for 'Superman'" is a documentary that is about a very important aspect of our country, and one that really should be getting Americans angry and upset about. The current state of education in America is abysmal, and while this documentary doesn't skimp on the details, but what it does lack is the power of motivating anyone to want to do much. It is sadly stagnant when it comes to"Waiting for 'Superman'" is a documentary that is about a very important aspect of our country, and one that really should be getting Americans angry and upset about. The current state of education in America is abysmal, and while this documentary doesn't skimp on the details, but what it does lack is the power of motivating anyone to want to do much. It is sadly stagnant when it comes to inspiring the viewer to want to do anything about the situation. Even the children and parents they show struggling to get an education seem subdued and distant. It does a skillful job at presenting the facts and flaws in our society, but lacks the heart and drive to make anyone want to do anything about it. Expand
  4. Mar 12, 2011
    5
    I remember there was a surprise when Waiting For "Superman" did not make the Oscars list of the Top 10 documentaries. Documentaries do not usually get that much publicity and when one does, such as this one did last year, people naturally expect it to win awards. But I understand why it was left off. It's disjointed. It wanders around and lacks a smooth narrative flow. The subjectI remember there was a surprise when Waiting For "Superman" did not make the Oscars list of the Top 10 documentaries. Documentaries do not usually get that much publicity and when one does, such as this one did last year, people naturally expect it to win awards. But I understand why it was left off. It's disjointed. It wanders around and lacks a smooth narrative flow. The subject matter is very interesting. What is wrong with America's schools? It presents multiple options on why schools fail and seems to settle on the teacher's unions. The unions are opposed to change and use their power to prevent any of it. The most amazing section is when a student carrying a secret camera in his backpack shows multiple teachers in his school saying they weren't doing anything that day and sit back and read the newspaper. The news aired the tape and the superintendent fired the teachers. However, the teachers had tenure. Under the contract, the superintendent was forced to rehire these teachers and pay them a year's back pay. It is nearly impossible to fire a bad teacher. Doctor's and lawyer's commonly lose their licenses for shoddy work, but teachers almost never lose their licenses and can really negatively impact a child's education. There is some suspense at the end when the handful of individual students the film followed are waiting to find out if they made it into charter schools, but the overall impact of the students falling through the cracks and failing schools does not really hit home. There are plenty of scenes to make the audience upset and wish for change, but it ultimately falls flat. Expand
  5. Apr 19, 2011
    6
    This documentary addresses the failure of public education in America, an overwhelming issue for the past several decades . Lack of a quality-based salary system for teachers (tradition of public employment system) is shown to be a big obstacle for improving the system. A fair deal of statistics and history is discussed. I believe, however, some important factors which relate to the poorThis documentary addresses the failure of public education in America, an overwhelming issue for the past several decades . Lack of a quality-based salary system for teachers (tradition of public employment system) is shown to be a big obstacle for improving the system. A fair deal of statistics and history is discussed. I believe, however, some important factors which relate to the poor performance of school kids are not presented. Education and income level of parents, value of education in family, average level of education in the neighborhood, inefficient curriculum, and insufficiently-educated teachers all strongly correlate with the decreasing performance level of students. Expand
  6. May 24, 2013
    4
    Waiting for Superman attempts to understand the failings of the American Education system, many of which could also be applied on a smaller scale to schools in areas of the UK.

    The movies intentions are certainly noble. It does a great job of highlighting the unfairness of the system where luck seems to the single most important factor in deciding whether a child will receive a good
    Waiting for Superman attempts to understand the failings of the American Education system, many of which could also be applied on a smaller scale to schools in areas of the UK.

    The movies intentions are certainly noble. It does a great job of highlighting the unfairness of the system where luck seems to the single most important factor in deciding whether a child will receive a good education. It is difficult not to feel for the parents and grandparents who only want their child to be given a chance.

    Having recently quit the teaching profession after only five years however I can say with confidence that Waiting for Superman does not tell the whole story. Firstly the families featured do not represent a fair cross section of those entering the school system. Each have a genuine interest in education and, from personal experience, I know that is certainly not the case for all children and their parents.

    The movie attacks so called 'poor' teachers and teachers unions, seemingly laying a large proportion of the blame at their doorstep. Of course there are bad teachers (as there are bad professionals in any job) but it ignores the fact that many public schools in the US, and UK for that matter, are underfunded and understaffed resulting in overcrowded classes and little assistance for teachers.

    The education system is obviously in need of major changes but Waiting for Superman's solutions are a little too simplistic, ignoring wider social and economic issues choosing instead to use personal stories to play on the emotions of the viewer.
    Expand

Awards & Rankings

Metascore
81

Universal acclaim - based on 31 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 29 out of 31
  2. Negative: 0 out of 31
  1. 70
    This documentary about the public education crisis isn't as smart or rigorous as Bob Bowdon's shoestring production "The Cartel," which arrived in town earlier this year and quickly vanished. But the new movie is still an admirable exercise in straight talk.
  2. By showing how fiercely dedicated idealists are making a difference, it is a call to arms.
  3. 67
    Nobody can disagree that Waiting for Superman deals with a subject demanding attention. But it paints the engulfing problems of U.S. education with a brush too broad and samples too small to be definitive.