Try Harder! (2021)

Seniors at one the best public high schools in the country face the pressure of applying to elite colleges.
  • 7.2 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2022-01-18 Added:
  • Spencer Nakasako, Writer:
  • Debbie Lum, Director:
  • Lou Nakasako, Nico Opper, Producer:

All subtitles:

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10 / 10

One of the Best Docs I've Seen in Years

Spend 90 minutes with a high school class at Lowell in San Francisco and see the pressure these kids, and sometimes their parents, place on themselves to succeed and get into the best colleges.

This is a terrific documentary. Totally engaging, funny and the empathy you feel inside yourself for these kids, while watching it, is palpable and I found myself getting quite emotional on a couple of occasions. I really enjoyed the AP physics teacher and wish I had had him as a high school teacher. I feel I know so much about these kids with the short time I've spent with them and would love to follow them through their higher education.

10 / 10

For College Bound Seniors, This Film is Completely Relatable and Eye-Opening

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!