It makes a certain kind of logic: if you’re going to send your kid to a school that costs $40,000, you may as well try your hardest to get her into the best school that costs $40,000, whatever that takes. Consider including professional headshots of your toddler sporting a bow-tie, and/or including a letter of recommendation from a member of Congress. Or maybe you’d be better off with some good old-fashioned lying and manipulation.
Such is the twisted logic of New York private school admissions, which gets a satirical take from filmmaker Josh Shelov (and stars Neil Patrick Harris and Amy Sedaris) in The Best and the Brightest, which opens this week. “I was eager to write something deeply uncensored,” Shelov told the Wall Street Journal. In making the film, he drew on his experiences finding a school for his own kindergartener five years ago. Unlike his film’s characters, Shelov presumably didn’t invent a more intriguing persona to make himself appealing to elite schools. (Neil Patrick Harris’ character pretends to be “a renowned poet with a forthcoming collection culled from sexually explicit text messages.” He is actually a computer programmer.)
All in all, the movie makes it clear that the admissions process is hardest on the parents. Shelov remembers being plagued by “a general feeling of paranoia that begins to settle in, an atmosphere of ‘you’re not doing enough.’ ” Does this high-stakes, cutthroat world look familiar to you in any way? Or do we just do things differently here in Baltimore?