Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Lawyer Walks Into A Bar: Grade F

A Lawyer Walks Into A Bar (2007)
Six law students in California, plus some commentators. Director Eric Chaikin.

This documentary follows six law students for a few months as they study for the California Bar exam, one of the toughest in the country. They range from recent graduates to a middle-aged man who has already failed the exam 41 times. The candidates tell why they want to pass (to get a law license, of course!), and about the pressure on them to pass, their personal anxieties, and so on. We don’t get to know much about any of them, or care about them. Artificial suspense is built as they wring their hands over how important it is for them to pass. In the end, some pass and some don’t, just as you would expect. I learned nothing from this movie. It is promoted as “a witty, seriocomic look at the American legal process.” It isn’t. Reviewers rave, “Edge of my seat,” “Impressive,” Gut-wrenching,” “Hilarious,” and “a film that every prospective lawyer should see.” I disagree with all those comments. The film is boring and uninformative. I’m sure every law student in California and in the whole USA understands that they must pass a bar exam and that not everybody does pass. The film does not seriously explore the American legal system, the legal educational system, the bar exam, or anything else, and despite the great title, the movie is not funny. A documentary on legal education could be fascinating, but this one isn’t.

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