Frontrunners Caroline Suh

Frontrunners Caroline Suh
What might be the greatest thing about Caroline Suh's documentary about a high school election at New York City's prestigious, and notoriously selective, Stuyvesant high school is how overtly it points out the limited correlation between SAT scores and actual intelligence, given that the former performance measurement tool does little more than point out one's ability to regurgitate insubstantial information. While the kids in this doc are considered the nation's elite, their glib arguments and perfunctory reasoning based on conclusion rather than explanations suggest much of our culture's plight. Our leaders succeed based on their abilities to do and say what is expected rather than offer anything progressive or divergent. Stupidity aside (or at the forefront), the aim of Frontrunners is to mirror the systemic folly within the U.S. presidential election process. It falls short of this, however, given the lack of variance in the four white candidates and the fear of examining this with any depth, aside from a couple of incidental mentions of race and popularity. The candidates include Mike, the generic, dime-a-dozen popular kid who feels that campaigning isn't necessary when he's the coolest; Hannah, the actress/cheerleader who appeared in Todd Solondz's Palindromes; and George, the potential future serial killer with a tendency to misuse words. A mostly apathetic and bemused voter base proves easily influenced by media and saturation, which will be of little surprise to anyone who's sober. Aside from some inadvertent revelations, as previously mentioned, Frontrunners is unable to succeed in what it sets out to do but manages to entertain on a structural level, as it has at least been assembled in a balanced and competent manner. The DVD includes a feature-length commentary with the director and documentary subjects where they essentially make fun of each other and briefly discuss American Idol. Also included are many deleted scenes with each candidate, along with some press interviews where the peculiar George becomes preoccupied with a cockatiel. (Mongrel Media)