This much-needed, in-depth exploration of our country's failed public school system gives voice to figures who are trying to drive change — notably, Geoffrey Canada, founder of the Harlem Children's Zone, and former DC schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, along with those most affected by the status quo: inner city students Anthony, Francisco, Bianca, Daisy, Emily and their parents. Director Guggenheim leaves no stone unturned in this multi-faceted examination: anemic government funding; controversial charter schools; ineffective, fully-tenured teachers; and much more end up under his revealing microscope.
The burning relevance of Guggenheim's probing, riveting documentary generated much healthy debate upon its release, shining a spotlight on a nagging issue we can no longer afford to ignore. The film covers a number of intractable problems contributing to the crisis, and via inventive framing and graphics, makes these complex issues easier to understand. Though it never shies away from portraying the human cost of this massive dysfunction, it never feels overly preachy or emotional, and leaves the viewer with a measure of hope for the future. Whether you agree with its findings or not, "Superman" still constitutes must-viewing.