"Justin Lin's BETTER LUCK TOMORROW is an interesting if not entirely
original take on high school ennui, and the how easy the slide from academic
success into crime and violence can be. BETTER LUCK TOMORROW is also notable
because it is the first acquisition of an Asian-American film from the
Sundance Film Festival and MTV Films' first acquisition ever. (MTV Films
"Ben is a smart, successful high school student who is on the fast
track to an ivy league college. He and his friends spend a lot of time
studying, participating in scholarly clubs, and staying academically active.
When he gets involved with Derek, the one who makes it all look so easy
academically, he finds a dark side to life as he embarks on some petty
crimes including theft and cheating. Slowly things spiral to the inevitable
explosion of violence that not even the intelligence and academic success
of these kids can protect them from.
"Director Justin Lin walks a fine line with BETTER LUCK TOMORROW.
I was slipping back and forth between being caught up in the film and
its interesting cultural viewpoints and shaking my head at the some of
the trite dialogue and seen-it-before disaffected youth scenarios. The
strange absence of adult presence in the film was tellnig, as was the
pervasive need for these kids to succeed academically without that aspect
beoming a parody. Strangely enough, the gang-like violence and drug-use
that Ben and his friends fall into sometimes does seem like a parody,
which I suspect was intentional.
"I'm not entirely certain how I feel about BETTER LUCK TOMORROW in
the long run. I do know I enjoyed it more than Bob, and that the ending
didn't bother me as much as it did Scot. However, the ending is extremely
morally ambiguous, which was somewhat dissatisfying. I would have just
completely excised the final scene and have the film end with the closing
of the elevator doors."
3 1/2 cats