The First Grader
The First Grader (2011)

In a small, remote mountain top primary school in the Kenyan bush, hundreds of children are jostling for a chance for the free education newly promised by the Kenyan government. One new applicant causes astonishment when he knocks on the… More

Directed By:
Rated: PG-13
Running Time:
Release Date: May 13, 2011
DVD Release Date: December 27, 2011
Add Your Rating
Rotten Tomatoes™
Critic Score
User Score

Available Online

Critic Score: 61% Rotten Tomatoes™ Critic Reviews
Peter Debruge

Director Justin Chadwick's admirable effort manages to do more than inspire, educating auds with an important chapter in African history.

Full review…
Moira MacDonald
Seattle Times

The filmmaking is ... uneven, filled with charming picture-postcard scenes of smiling children and African sunshine that seem crafted for a different film than one with moments of horrific flashbacks.

Lindy West
The Stranger (Seattle, WA)

What sounds like a festival-movie parody-it's Billy Madison meets Hotel Rwanda!-turns out to be a politically complex, emotionally charged history lesson.

Full review…
Dave Calhoun
Time Out

It's funny how 'real life' sometimes conforms so closely to hackneyed patterns of screenwriting.

Full review…
Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune

The story is uplifting in a predictably pro-education, antiwar, feel-good way, warmth and humor balancing the heavy moments.

Full review…
Dwight Brown
National Newspaper Publishers Association

This appealing mixture of contention and inspiration becomes a feel-good story that will make you shed a tear, then grin ear to ear.

Full review…
Tom Long
Detroit News

The First Grader is every bit as inspiring and heart-warming as you'd expect.

Full review…
Rick Groen
Globe and Mail

Stow your cynicism and give this lesson in continuing education the response it deserves -- more than a polite clap, maybe even a sitting ovation.

Full review…
Roger Moore
Tribune News Service

An earnest "true story" that hits many of the expected importance-of- education grace notes, but never quite achieves a lump-in-your-throat reaction

Full review…
More reviews for The First Grader

Flixster Audience Score: 76% Flixster User Reviews
Cynthia S.
Wonderful movie!! Inspiring. Heartfelt. Moving....and so continues my theory that some of the best movies are the ones that I have never heard of.... I found… More
Raymond Wieser
From the director of The Other Boleyn Girl comes a completely different story; one about perseverance and fighting for what is right. After just studying the… More
Jens S.
This true story of an 84 year old Kenyan man who, against all opposition, wants to make use of the new law of free education for first graders, is a perfect… More
Panta Oz
Wow... that's what I said after watching this movie! Outstanding biographical drama directed by Justin Chadwick, starring Naomie Harris, Oliver Litondo,… More
Matthew Slaven
The main (true) story here is not that a Kenyan octogenarian goes back to first grade, but the horrible hell he and his countrymen went through fighting off the… More