Try Harder!

critic Reviews

, 97% Fresh Tomatometer Score
  • Straightforward and disarmingly, charmingly sincere, Try Harder! follows college-bound students through their final year of high school.
  • , Fresh Tomatometer Score
    Kathleen SachsChicago 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...
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  • , Fresh Tomatometer Score
    Amy NicholsonFilmWeek (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.
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  • , Fresh Tomatometer Score
    Nick AllenRogerEbert.com
    This smart, savvy documentary does a great job in putting faces and stories behind students who are seen as computers.
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  • , Fresh Tomatometer Score
    Beandrea JulyNew York Times
    Quiet yet assertive, "Try Harder!" itself succeeds at not trying too hard.
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  • , Fresh Tomatometer Score
    Josh FlandersChicago Reader
    An interesting film about how kids pursue things without knowing why, at its best when occasionally digging deeper into issues of race, stereotypes, and privilege.
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  • , Fresh Tomatometer Score
    Alissa WilkinsonVox
    It's a very funny movie about a bunch of students trying to find their way through a system that is designed to keep them out rather than let them in.
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  • , Fresh Tomatometer Score
    Sandie Angulo ChenCommon 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.
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  • , Fresh Tomatometer Score
    Asher LubertoThe Playlist
    Try Harder!...is never anything less than whipsmart.
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  • , Fresh Tomatometer Score
    Michael WardShould I See It
    (Director Debbie) Lum is as fascinated with these students as we are, taking us on a journey good for the soul, the heart, and the mind.
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  • , Fresh Tomatometer Score
    Lael LoewensteinFilmWeek (KPCC - NPR Los Angeles)
    A really excellent documentary that takes a look with heart, humor, and some heaviness at what these teenage kids have to go through on their quest to get into college.
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