Try Harder!

audience Reviews

, 85% Audience Score
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    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!
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    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
  • Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
    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.
  • Rating: 0.5 out of 5 stars
    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.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    Really well-balanced documentary about the pressure that students at Lowell High School in San Francisco place upon themselves to get into college. I'm so glad I graduated from high school in the 80s, when there was less craziness about college.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    A fascinating look into the pressure, hopes, dreams and frustrations high-school students at a school such as Lowell go through in the process of preparing to apply to college. Amidst all the stress and pressure the director let these students personalities shine through. Great work!
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    An amazing, but true to life picture of life for ambitious, driven, and hardworking high school students.