The Grace Lee Project (2005) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Grace Lee Project (2005)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

Grace Lee is a filmmaker who, when she left her hometown of Columbia, MO, for New York City, and later for California, began to notice that her name was unusually common among Asian-American women -- someone described as the Asian-American equivalent of "Jane Smith." What troubled Lee most wasn't just that so many Asian women shared her name, but that it seemed to conjure up a very particular sort of person in the eyes of many -- a quiet, studious over-achiever who was cheerful, Christian, and never got into trouble. Lee didn't much care to be associated with a classic stereotype of an "ethnic American" desperate to assimilate with the larger culture, and she began to wonder -- is every Grace Lee like this? Lee set up a website to search out other Grace Lee's around the country, and followed up her research with a series of interviews that she fashioned into her film The Grace Lee Project. While Lee found plenty of women who lived up to the "Grace Lee" image, she also found many who didn't, including an elderly activist in Detroit's African-American community, a teenage goth kid who makes voodoo dolls for fun and profit, a fortysomething single parent who helped her best friend leave behind an abusive husband, a Hawaiian broadcast journalist, and a young troublemaker who attempted to burn down her high school. Incidentally, the Grace Lee who made The Grace Lee Project learned she wasn't the only Grace Lee who directs movies -- a Grace Lee living in Portland, OR, is also a filmmaker. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
Documentary , Musical & Performing Arts , Special Interest
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Critic Reviews for The Grace Lee Project

All Critics (21) | Top Critics (8)

Niftily shot and edited, The Grace Lee Project isn't just a witty unpacking of stereotype. It's also a welcome freshening of the old documentary saw that there's no such thing as an ordinary person.

March 30, 2006
L.A. Weekly
Top Critic

Although the filmmaker provides some welcome humor in her often self-deprecating narration, she also displays a self-indulgence that gives her effort the distinct air of a vanity project.

January 5, 2006
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic

Eager to find out more about these like-named folks, she launched a highly unscientific investigation. Luckily for us, she recorded everything in the fun documentary The Grace Lee Project.

December 16, 2005
New York Post
Top Critic

Though self-centered by its very nature, Grace Lee's chronicle of other women who share her name turns out to be a funny and insightful exploration into identity issues we all can recognize.

Full Review… | December 16, 2005
New York Daily News
Top Critic

In her small, witty autobiographical documentary, a Korean-American filmmaker named Grace Lee explores the personal and social ramifications of a name she finds oppressive.

December 14, 2005
New York Times
Top Critic

A breezy first-person video essay that goes in search of the average Asian American woman, all the while wondering if there is in fact such a thing.

December 13, 2005
Village Voice
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Grace Lee Project


More than a little pretentious as a concept, but I really enjoyed two of the individual stories (the ones about the Asian Black activist and the woman who helped her domestically abused friend). There didn't seem like the filmmaker had much to say other than "there's a lot of Grace Lees" so that her observations and everything seemed really scatterbrained.

Zane Umsted
Zane Umsted

Here?s another self-obsessed Asian-American female videomaker looking for some deeper sense of identity and worth. Why yes, of course she narrates with plenty of self-reflection and obvious observations, and yes, they are guaranteed to be pointless and boring. Puke. Oh yeah, and then she complains about some stereotypes and tries to disprove them. I will admit she does find two mildly interesting characters ? a near-deaf mom and an old civil rights activist. These two subjects showed some passion and disregarded preconceived notions of Grace Lees. They worked for what they believed in and didn?t seem to care what anyone else thought of them. If only these segments were included, the video would have been tolerable and maybe kind of good. It was hard to watch, and even the two good characters didn?t really teach me anything ? they were just more likable than anyone else involved with the project.


Much better than I expected. The jesus freak girl kind of spooked me, but I think she would be cool to know IRL.

Joe V
Joe V

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