So was it worth the wait?
The highly anticipated documentary “Waiting for Superman” opened today in New York and Los Angeles, boosted by unanimous raves, an hour-long Oprah special, and buzz by film critics nationwide. Davis Guggenheim’s new film, which rolls out nationwide in October, also is expected to get another bump from NBC’s “Education Nation” summit next week.
The theater was almost full at a 10:55 a.m. showing in one of the two New York theatres playing the film, and the 7:30 p.m. showing already was sold out at the Lowes Lincoln Square 13. Interest was so high, in fact, that a second theater was added during the early showing.
From an entertainment standpoint, and thanks to an almost unparalleled marketing campaign, Guggenheim has ramped up the debate about our nation’s public schools in a way that the best films do. He hitches the narrative to sympathetic, interesting characters and draws them into a sort of good vs. evil battle with the highest stakes of all the education of our children. But in doing so, he also misses the mark.
By casting teachers, and more specifically, teachers unions as the film’s villains, Guggenheim goes for an easy target. Examples of school boards and traditional administrators are shown in films made in the 1950s and ’60s. And while the brush is not quite broad enough to paint charter schools as the be-all, end-all for public education only 17 percent of charters perform significantly better than their traditional public counterparts the only success stories shown in the film are charters.