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      Try Harder!

      Released Dec 3, 2021 1 hr. 25 min. Documentary TRAILER for Try Harder!: Trailer 1 List
      97% 38 Reviews Tomatometer 84% Fewer than 50 Ratings Audience Score At Lowell High School, the top public high school in San Francisco, the seniors are stressed out. As they prepare for the emotionally draining college application process, students are keenly aware of the intense competition for the few open spots in their dream colleges. At Lowell -- where cool kids are nerds, nearly everyone has an amazing talent, and most of the student body is Asian American -- the things that usually make a person stand out can feel commonplace. With humor and heart, director Debbie Lum captures the reality of the American college application process and the intersection of class, race, and educational opportunity as young adults navigate a quintessential rite of passage. Read More Read Less Watch on Fandango at Home Premiered Aug 22 Buy Now

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      Try Harder!

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      Try Harder!

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      Critics Consensus

      Straightforward and disarmingly, charmingly sincere, Try Harder! follows college-bound students through their final year of high school.

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      Audience Reviews

      View All (8) audience reviews
      Linda An amazing, but true to life picture of life for ambitious, driven, and hardworking high school students. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 12/04/21 Full Review Baldwin C Loved this film. I related to it so much. There is so much pressure on our students. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 12/07/23 Full Review ranny l The college admissions process is one of the most competitive endeavors children in America face every year. As a senior in high school currently going through it, I found this film relatable and eye-opening to the hardships that I and many others are facing. Try Harder! takes us through the admissions process by following members of the senior class at Lowell High School, a prestigious, nationally ranked school. The students in the film all share the same process, yet different personal experiences which make the process more complex. The stereotypes of immigrant parents reign true in this documentary. It considers different viewpoints on the different aspects of the admissions process - from test scores to essays. I love that the film ponders questions we will never get to uncover such as, if you should be humble in writing your essay or not. It questions whether you should check the "I do not wish to disclose" when asked for your race or gender. This film also touches on heavy social issues such as the stereotypes placed on African Americans and their academic abilities, racial discrimination in the admission's process, and the mental health of students in pressurized households. One of students in the film mentions a very powerful message applicable to this situation, but also in any difficult situation - "People who apply and don't work hard, yet still get in, rubs me the wrong way." This quote exemplifies how, during a competition of any sort, you must work hard and overcome those people making it difficult for you to succeed or to be happy. This film promotes positive social behavior and mentions mental health. I give Try Harder! 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. Try Harder! opens in theatres December 3, 2021. By Ashleigh C., KIDS FIRST! Rated 5 out of 5 stars 03/31/23 Full Review dave d Debbie Lum's documentary feature 'Try Harder' spotlights the highly competitive Lowell High School in San Francisco and follows several students in their quest to be accepted to ultra elite universities. Lum builds tension as we track the progress of several seniors and one junior. What we learn is, the system is designed to reject kids like these from their desired schools. Many want to go to the best of the best, but only a few, if any are chosen. I found the movie to be depressing at times, but it is without a doubt enlightening and a sobering reminder of the pressure put on talented kids at gifted schools and how one rejection could turn their individual life in an entirely different direction in their mind at that time. The reality is, the last school you go to is the most important so they shouldn't give up hope. A well-made and important film for anyone going to college in the next couple years or any parent of a child who is. Final Score: 8.2/10 Rated 4 out of 5 stars 03/31/23 Full Review brent m When the pressure to perform is on, it can be a nerve-wracking experience, and that's the case for the high-achieving students at San Francisco's Lowell High School, the most prestigious public institution in the city and one of the most notable such schools in the country. That's especially true for seniors as they vie for acceptance into the nation's most elite universities, and, given the high school pedigrees that most of them will graduate with, one might believe that they would have their pick of colleges. As director Debbie Lum's second feature illustrates, though, that's far from guaranteed, a process that often leaves Lowell students bewildered, overwhelmed and in need (as the film's title suggests) of ever having to try harder. Lum's documentary examines this question from the viewpoint of six students as they struggle to make their dreams come true. However, in doing so, the narrative tends to get bogged down in the minutiae of the college admissions process, and, while that may indeed occupy much of the students' attention, that narrow focus leaves out much of the rest of the high school experience that comes from attending an institution like this. I found myself tiring of endless details about SAT scores, AP exams and how many colleges the students applied to with only passing references about the rest of their school days. To be sure, an experience like this seems as though it would provide ample fodder for an engaging film, but this particular offering could have used a broader view to make it more enlightening, inclusive and informative and less like a laundry list of dates, numbers and statistics. This is by no means an awful film, but, like so many of the students seeking admittance to elite schools, this one deserves to go on the waitlist. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 03/31/23 Full Review Audience Member Não param de fazer filmes mediocres, gasto de tempo pra quem faz e pra quem assiste... Não adiante sites como rotten tomatoes manipular notas em mediocridade, não vai fazer com que lixo se torne algo bom. Rated 0.5 out of 5 stars 02/05/23 Full Review Read all reviews Post a rating

      Cast & Crew

      This movie is featured in the following articles.

      Critics Reviews

      View All (38) Critics Reviews
      Kathleen Sachs Chicago Reader Set at a top-ranked public high school in San Francisco, the film explores such issues as the stress put on students during said process and the intersectionality of how this affects kids from different backgrounds, including the children of immigrants... Apr 8, 2022 Full Review Amy Nicholson FilmWeek (KPCC - NPR Los Angeles) It's a really well-crafted mix of the specific and the particular of the individual, and the larger. universal story of how screwed up the college admissions system have gotten. Dec 7, 2021 Full Review Nick Allen RogerEbert.com This smart, savvy documentary does a great job in putting faces and stories behind students who are seen as computers. Rated: 3/4 Dec 3, 2021 Full Review Cody Dericks Next Best Picture "Try Harder!" is a funny, moving, and surprisingly joyful look at that moment in your life where the world seems both terrifying and full of possibilities. It may even help its audience to look back on that period with more affection. Rated: 8/10 Jul 8, 2022 Full Review Sandie Angulo Chen Common Sense Media Parents and teens should watch this film together, encourage their PTSAs to host screenings and discussions, and internalize the messages about the ludicrous amount of pressure that so many high achieving students feel to go to the same 20 colleges. Rated: 4/5 Feb 1, 2022 Full Review Asher Luberto The Playlist Try Harder!...is never anything less than whipsmart. Rated: B+ Dec 27, 2021 Full Review Read all reviews

      Movie Info

      Synopsis At Lowell High School, the top public high school in San Francisco, the seniors are stressed out. As they prepare for the emotionally draining college application process, students are keenly aware of the intense competition for the few open spots in their dream colleges. At Lowell -- where cool kids are nerds, nearly everyone has an amazing talent, and most of the student body is Asian American -- the things that usually make a person stand out can feel commonplace. With humor and heart, director Debbie Lum captures the reality of the American college application process and the intersection of class, race, and educational opportunity as young adults navigate a quintessential rite of passage.
      Director
      Debbie Lum
      Executive Producer
      Geralyn White Dreyfous, Kathryn Everett, Sally Jo Fifer, Roberto Grande, Tony Hsieh, Naja Pham Lockwood, Bryn Mooser, Mimi Pham, Jean Tsien, Lois Vossen
      Distributor
      Greenwich Entertainment
      Production Co
      XTR, California Council for the Humanities, Independent Lens, ITVS
      Genre
      Documentary
      Original Language
      English
      Release Date (Theaters)
      Dec 3, 2021, Limited
      Release Date (Streaming)
      Dec 24, 2021
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