Written by Jon Berk
Director: Dan Chen
It has been stated several times that I am a teacher before I am a critic. I’ve been in the profession for over a decade and, subsequently, I am a sucker for a movie about teachers or education. Accepted (2021) directed by Dan Chen focuses on TM Landry Prep School based out of Louisana. The school made waves on social media back in 2018 and has boasted a 100% college acceptance rate. That story alone is worth watching - but this documentary ends up finding some additional stories that are also worthy of telling.
The hard part about writing a review for a documentary like this is knowing what to discuss and what to leave out, so the viewing experience isn’t sullied for the reader. I knew absolutely nothing about this school, and that was surprising. I’ve heard of similar schools with alternative systems of teaching that boasted similar success stories. It’s usually very hard to replicate - and Chen definitely sets out to share this impressive story.
Chen does a great job of finding compelling students to interview and showcase in the film. The students come from a variety of backgrounds, and all have joined this school hoping to get into a good college. The front of the interesting stories is the school’s founder and headteacher, Mike Landry. There are several moments of motivational speeches, of Landry working well past traditional school hours (to be fair, the students do this too), and of him looking to improve the education of the students in the area. There is just a wealth of content here - and the film goes places one may not anticipate.
Accepted is a Must-See film for anyone in the world of education, as well as for parents. It really gets to the heart of what pressure students feel, and how it takes more than just hard work to “succeed” in the current system. Chen did a great job of navigating and constructing what must have been a difficult situation and assembled one impressive movie.
June 15th 2021