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Pressure Cooker (2008)

  NR HD Closed Captioning

Jennifer Grausman & Mark Becker

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Plot Summary

There's a force-of-nature behind the door to Room 325 at Frankford High School in Philadelphia. Her name is Wilma Stephenson and she teaches Culinary Arts. Infamously blunt, Mrs. Stephenson runs a "boot camp" at Frankford, disciplining her students into capable chefs and responsible students. A teacher for 40 years, Wilma can be cantankerous – but behind her toughtalking exterior is a teacher who cares passionately about getting the best out of her kids. She'll do anything for those students with the hunger to succeed; those who fall short will not be missed – many will drop out before the first week is over. PRESSURE COOKER documents an entire school year with Wilma and those students committed enough to surrender themselves to her enlightened despotism. By the end of the year, 13 of her students will have made it through the gauntlet. At a school where over 40% of students don't even make it to their senior year, Wilma shows her kids how to acheive the American Dream: You choose a realistic goal. You work hard. You work the system. You get out of Northeast Philly. At the end of the year, there is a one-day scholarship competition, where the city’s top chefs judge the students’ skills and talent. Success depends on their capacity for sustained drive throughout their senior year. Can they endure the stressful challenges wrought by their home lives – holding minimumwage jobs after school, being surrogate parents to their siblings – while still finding the motivation to wake up at 6AM to get to class early enough to master crepes and tournée potatoes...?

Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews

TOMATOMETER

91%
  • Reviews Counted: 23
  • Fresh: 21
  • Rotten: 2
  • Average Rating: 7.5/10

Top Critics' Reviews

Fresh: Stephenson looms largest as a reminder of what the right teacher can mean to a kid looking for a way out; it takes a strong woman and a special grace to not only let her proteges go, year after year, but practically shove them out the door. – Michelle Orange, Village Voice, May 27, 2009

Fresh: An earnest crowd-pleaser that could have used an extra helping of dramatic tension -- but it succeeds by placing us in an interesting world with characters who are impossible not to root for. – David Lewis, San Francisco Chronicle, Jul 7, 2010

Fresh: The movie's sense of inspiration is realistic. It never implies a future of glamour, only hard-won success. – Wesley Morris, Boston Globe, Sep 9, 2010

Fresh: Pressure Cooker is both a tribute to a teacher who actually cares and kids who actually want to learn. Would that there were more people like them. – V.A. Musetto, New York Post, Jul 7, 2010

Read More About This Movie On Rotten Tomatoes

Customer Reviews

MUST SEE-- truly inspiring, exciting film

I have seen this film several times, and it never gets old! Wilma is a firecracker who loves her "kids," and will do just about anything for them. To see the journey that these high school seniors go through during the course of the year will make you laugh and bring tears to your eyes. I found myself clapping during the awards ceremony... I was so invested in the film that I actually thought I was there and was rooting for these kids with every fiber of my body. All my friends who have seen it also love it. Definitely check out PRESSURE COOKER, you will be glad you did!

My culinary middle school kids acutually applauded! Kid approved.

I showed this documentary to my 7th and 8th graders while making them take Cornell notes. It was the best way to show them..."personal effort determines personal success, " which is a TEK required by the state of Texas in culinary arts. As an adult you can yammer all day about perserverance and dedication, but for them to see it within kids they could relate to was literally icing on the cake. Kuddos to a EGGCELLENT educational film for today's youth. BTW all my kids said they would LOVE to have Ms. Stephenson as a high school teacher. Tough love with a tender heart resonates, We give it 5 forks!

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Pressure Cooker (2008)
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