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Parents' Guide to

Intelligent Lives

By Michael Ordona, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Gentle docu about people with disabilities tackling life.

Movie NR 2018 70 minutes
Intelligent Lives Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

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The subjects of this documentary are undeniably inspiring, but the filmmaking is on the scattershot side, limiting the film's power. Intelligent Lives shares some of the positive outcomes that are possible when people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities get the right kind of support and opportunities. Naieer, Micah, and Naomie's stories are juxtaposed with history lessons from our (barbaric) recent past. Not all that long ago, people in their shoes might well have been relegated to institutions that were indistinguishable from prisons. Cooper tells how his own family was advised to put his son, Jesse, in an institution; instead, they fought for his inclusion in standard education programs, and he became a star student and poet.

But Intelligent Lives doesn't make specific recommendations beyond inclusion and awareness. It offers a link at the end of the film for more information, but within the movie itself you'll find few concrete details. Each subject has outstanding support; it's hard not to think that's pretty rare. Are there solutions we can pursue, laws we can urge our representatives to make? Are there success rates for given programs? Dramatically, the film lacks a driving narrative; threads are introduced and dropped. And so the film is ultimately somewhat unsatisfying, despite the subjects' involving stories. You certainly root for them; you just wish there was some beginning, middle, and end to the film that didn't leave you wondering what happened next.

Movie Details

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