Nursery University (2008)

Nursery University (2008) — I already didn’t want kids, but this movie strengthened that resolve for me. At the very least if I were ever to procreate, I would do it far far away from Manhattan. This documentary is about the ultra-competitive private preschool system in Manhattan. There has been a major baby boom in Manhattan since 2000 and there are way more children then there are spaces available in the “elite” private preschools… Even those that can afford the exorbitant tuitions (which cost more than the private high school I attended) are not guaranteed spots. The thinking is that the right preschool will set the child on the right path to the right kindergarten (which the end of the movie teases as being even MORE ultracompetitive for admissions), which leads to the right grade school, right middle school, right high school, and finally right prestigious university and a better life. One of the women who works for one of the schools characterizes this thinking as excessive and built upon only the slightest sliver of truth. She bluntly states that admission into her pre-school does not get your kid into Harvard. The movie follows several parents as they scramble around with their (by-and-large) adorable children trying to impress the right people. How oblivious the 2 and 3 year old kids are in all this is great. The weird thing about the film is no matter how INSANE this whole system is you find yourself really rooting for the kids. One yuppie couple has a father who is hell-bent on getting his daughter Juliana into all the best schools and one scene where he and his wife watch nervously as little Juliana tries to solve a puzzle with an admissions counselor is kind of hilarious and gut-wrenching at the same time. Nursery University makes you care.

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