7 Plus Seven (14 Up) - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

7 Plus Seven (14 Up) Reviews

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½ April 26, 2016
Part two of the Up series, which loyally follows the formula established in 1964's Seven Up despite a change in the director's chair. By now the children of seven years prior have grown into adolescence, with all of their internal turmoil and social anxiety worn right out in the open; painfully obvious to the viewer if not the subject. The interviews feel less clinical this time around, as they generally take place in more comfortable, revealing personal settings (a living room or front lawn, in most cases) but the teens are far less cooperative and forthcoming. With just one or two exceptions, wringing a colorful response out of these kids is like pulling teeth, as they each struggle with quiet, navel-gazing uncertainty and a flood of wishy-washy almost-answers. That makes for some rather dry viewing (and several nearly-incomprehensible replies) but also serves as a very vivid, relatable throwback to the crippling difficulties common in this stage of the human metamorphosis. Nobody seems prepared to have reached the crossroads of life, except perhaps John (vocal and surprisingly adept at politics in his early teens) and Bruce (who bears an old soul). But maybe they just do a better job of hiding it than the others.
October 19, 2006
Seven Up!
Runtime: 38 minutes (37 minutes of "real movie")
RATING (0 to ****): **1/2

A mostly unintelligible and, surprisingly, less funny documentary than one would expect, considering the subjects being little 7-year-olds (gotten to accustomed to that whole "kids say the darndest things" business, I guess). The most interesting part of this documentary is not necessarily in the experiment they're performing- which would mean it would inevitably be more interesting as it progresses- but what is the most fascinating to listen to:

How these little 7-year-old kids think of such touchy conversation topics as money, politics, and racial issues.

7 Plus Seven
Runtime: 52 minutes (51 minutes of "real movie")
RATING (0 to ****): **1/2

Slightly better than its predecessor, though it's obvious the filmmakers are still having a hard time getting the kids to say anything. Most of them look very reluctant, and the big flaw I'm seeing with this series thus far is too many talking heads- show don't tell. I know they can't chronicle everything in 7 years (not expecting "Hoop Dreams" here), but showing more would make a better documentary.

A style is established, of showing clips from the first installment, and cutting to contrasting views of now. Yet again, it is when our participants talk about touchy issues that it is at its most interesting.

Runtime: 1 hour, 40 minutes (99 minutes of "real movie")
RATING (0 to ****): ***

Ah, there's the lucky break I was waiting for! The big moral with an experimental series like this, which structures itself around time, is to be patient.

It seems the filmmakers realize how unsuccessful it was to pop information from when the participants were 14- clips are rarely used. Also dropped are the thoughts on racial issues- and I'm guessing that's for the sake of some of our participants. Some of them have become hippies, and I've noticed hippie culture always brings out the best in documentaries (love it or hate it, you just have to keep listening and keep watching: or, why "Woodstock" worked as a 4-hour film).

The third time around, it is finally immersive, and though longer than the first two combined, it moves twice as fast as either one. While still excessive in its use of talking heads, we do see some people at work- one of them in the progress of building a house, another we get to see our jockey in a horse race with people placing bets.

While structured to be accessible to those who have not viewed the previous installments, I think most of the people likely to view this would like to see it from the beginning- it does enhance the experience, though it's not an absolute requirement. Only at 21 do they start to allow us to get to know them.
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