Mind Matters
Whiz Kids
Review by Ross Anthony

With so much focus in the news on kids in gangs or on drugs or shooting up schools, it's only fair that our best and brightest get some screen time. For that reason, I celebrate this documentary.

That said, the production has its faults. The first and greatest is a weak-out-of-the-box opening. As one of the young high school age scientist learned from her apt friend, "It's not just about the facts, it's about conveying that information in an entertaining way." (I paraphrase.) The doc knows this and shows effort. The inclusions of fun chalkboard animations illustrate the abstract concepts explained by these brainy students. But it's simply not enough. The first 10 minutes are not punchy, even for me, a member of the choir, not the unconverted.

However, viewers will be rewarded for their patience. The drama heats up as these academics show more of their delicate emotional sides. And real or not, the doc sets up a head-to-head battle between one of these teens and the company of DuPont over chemicals in local water reserves. Her story is perhaps the most compelling. By the hour mark, Whiz Kids had completely won me over. In fact, when the final awards were given to the top 3 of 40 science hopefuls (in the country) I was appalled that the rewards weren't fatter and wider. If these really were the 40 best sci-smart kids the USA has to offer, why where only 3 given scholarship money? I applaud Intel for putting that contest together. But, seems to me a few phone calls to foundations etc would yield some ed-funds for these 37 others. Heck, why not pay an additional 50k to hire a professional individual to serve as an educational rep/agent for these kids for one full year. Haven't these kids earned the right to have someone who knows the system acquire scholarships offered via universities or elsewhere, and take care of the time-consuming application process etc.?

So, ultimately, I enjoyed the production. But, I had hoped this doc could serve to inspire less-inspired students. But, unmotivated viewers willing to have a look, will give up on this piece after 3 minutes (or less) without a reworked punchy open. Hmmm, or perhaps, teachers could start the DVD at 30 minutes in, that would cut the run time to 50 minutes, which would better fit a class period.

-- Books by Author/Illustrator Ross Anthony --


  • Whiz Kids. Copyright © 2010.
  • Directed by Tom Shepard and Tina DiFeliciantonio. Written by Jane C. Wagner. Produced by Michel Duca. Distributed by Shadow.

Grade..........................B+ (2.5/4)


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Copyright © 1998-2016 Ross Anthony, Author - Speaker - Solo World Circumnavigator In addition to reviewing films and interviewing celebs at HollywoodReportCard.com, traveling the world, composing great music, motivational speaking, Mr. Anthony also runs his own publishing company in the Los Angeles area. While traversing the circumference of the planet writing books and shooting documentaries, Mr. Anthony has taught, presented for, worked &/or played with locals in over 30 countries & 100 cities (Nairobi to Nagasaki). He's bungee-jumped from a bridge near Victoria Falls, wrestled with lions in Zimbabwe, crashed a Vespa off a high mountain road in Taiwan, and ridden a dirt bike across the States (Washington State to Washington DC). To get signed books ("Rodney Appleseed" to "Jinshirou") or schedule Ross to speak check out: www.RossAnthony.com or call 1-800-767-7186. Check out his other sites too: Author*Illustrator*Speaker, Motobookothon 2009, M9, Write Triangle, TwT. Go into the world and inspire the people you meet with your love, kindness, and whatever it is you're really good at. Check out books by Ross Anthony. Rand() functions, Pho chicken soup, rollerblading, and frozen yogurt (w/ blueberries) also rock! (Btw, rand is short for random. It can also stand for "Really Awkward Nutty Dinosaurs" -- which is quite rand, isn't it?) Being alive is the miracle. Special thanks to Ken Kocanda, HAL, Jodie Keszek, Don Haderlein, Mom and Pops, my family, R. Foss, and many others by Ross Anthony. Galati-FE also deserves a shout out. And thanks to all of you for your interest and optimism. Enjoy great films, read stirring novels, grow.


Last Modified: Friday, 09-Apr-2010 20:42:34 PDT