What is going to change? I kept asking myself this question multiple times when watching this movie. The actions of Rick Singer aren’t condonable by any sense of the imagination. The beauty of capitalism is we throw our hands up, stating “it is what it is” while the rich trample over the average student who’s more than deserving of being accepted. Chris Smith and Michael R. Williams’ documentary is meant to get your blood boiling. Imitating The Social Network, Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal Mickey Mouses the overall style that has been incorporated from David Fincher’s 2010 film over and over again by other filmmakers, as a repudiation against the rich, a theme that’s entirely familiar but tiring.
The College Admissions Scandal almost feels like it was two years ago. What prompted the controversy was rich white kids’ parents buying their way into college through Rick Singer, a College Admissions Advisor. Spoiled kids buying their way into prestigious universities is something that everyone in this country is exceptionally familiar with. What’s infuriating is how it hurts virtually everyone outside of that 1% little bubble. The stories of the kids who may never get into Harvard due to their ethnicity or economic background is heartbreaking. If you’re looking for some affirmation that you were tossed aside by the education system, then here’s your film.
By the fifth reenacted telephone conversation, I was beginning to feel weary from the picture’s design. Cut to an interview subject talking about why Rick Singer is a terrible person, cut to a phone reenactment of Matthew Modine playing Rick, making backyard deals with a parent. Got it, he’s a bad guy, and the parents follow along knowingly in his schemes. As the pressure turns up later in the picture, luckily, the movie’s pace gets a boost of life. To an extent, it kept my attention which I believe is good enough to get the job done.
The story of the rest of the country is hardly covered. We see children that aren’t in the fortunate position of Rick’s clients get rejected; unfortunately, we don’t get to know any of them. I understand that this documentary isn’t about them, mainly since it’s more of a story about the terrible rich people. Still, I felt like it was missing a heart. The movie can have someone being interviewed on camera telling the audience about the children in America who will never have a chance. Still, its effectiveness gets old when treated more as an afterthought. It is strange considering Operation Varsity Blues’ entire theme is about how the hierarchal system in America keeps everyone down.
How will this piece of media change things? What does it say that we can do specifically to let out deserving children get into the universities they desire? Two points are made in the film, one that I agree with another I don’t. One is from an interview subject not blaming the parents for paying off for their kids to go to school. I don’t blame them either. You love your kid. You’d do anything for them, so this is an opportunity for your kid to flourish. The other point is that a University’s prestige doesn’t equate to how good the school is beyond its image. I can say from experience that’s rarely the case. Let’s say a guy goes to Yale Law School. His chances of finding a high-paying job are highly more likely than those who went to Loyola Academy. Please don’t lie to me about that when your film tells the truth so well in other departments. That’s a bandage. A bandage can’t fix what’s already broken.