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Film: A Mighty Wurlitzer

by Ross Douthat

A review of Waiting for ‘Superman’

There are few genres I find as wearying as the political documentary. This is true even when they’re competently done: The more skillfully the film makes its points, hails its heroes, and skewers its villains, the more I tend to sit squirming in my seat, resisting the urge to hurl rejoinders at the screen, and muttering over and over again under my breath: “It’s more complicated than that . . .”

In part, I’m usually just allergic to the political point that’s being made: In the world of documentary filmmaking, after all, the ideological spectrum runs from Al Gore on the right to Noam Chomsky on the left, with Michael Moore’s girth bestriding most of the territory in between. (And the less said about the occasional right-wing “answers” to Moore’s efforts, the better.)

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