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Review: ‘Most Likely to Succeed’ tracks four teens targeted as high achievers over a decade

Quidrela “Quay” Lewis in an emotional moment in the documentary “Most Likely to Succeed.”
“Most Likely to Succeed” tracks four teens, including Quidrela “Quay” Lewis, over a decade to see how their life goals play out.
(Level 33)

The paths taken by a quartet of high-achieving high school seniors from disparate backgrounds are compellingly traced in “Most Likely to Succeed,” a thoughtful documentary by Pamela Littky.

Filmed over the course of a decade, the film charts the career courses taken by Sarah Kaiser-Cross, Quidrela “Quay” Lewis, Peter Hayes and Charles “Disco” Rider, who all graduate at the top of their respective classes.

The daughter of Jupiter, Fla., pastors with the perky, can-do determination of “Legally Blonde’s” Elle Woods, Sarah wants to travel the world and work at an embassy; meanwhile genial Quay, the first in her Detroit family to attend college, is set on a career of any sort.

Then there’s Westwood’s Peter, the nerdy son of two UCLA linguist professors, similarly eyeing a future in academia; and, finally, Detroit’s affable Charles, born addicted to drugs and adopted at age 2, who “really, really” wants to be married above all else.

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Despite their shared ambitions, the forces of privilege and fate will inevitably intervene.

Ideally, it would have made for a more comprehensive picture to have included an African American subject from a middle-class background or a white grad from a blue-collar family among the profiles.

Nevertheless, the film effectively illustrates how the words “Most Likely to Succeed,” written under a yearbook photo can serve as both a cheering vote of confidence and an awfully daunting expectation.

‘Most Likely to Succeed’
Not rated

Running Time: 1 hour, 36 minutes

Playing: Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica

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