Higher Learning (1994)
Average Rating: 5.3/10
Reviews Counted: 34
Fresh: 17 | Rotten: 17
No consensus yet.
Average Rating: 4.8/10
Critic Reviews: 12
Fresh: 5 | Rotten: 7
No consensus yet.
Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 20,488
This drama examines the personal, political, and racial dilemmas facing a group of college freshmen as they begin their first semester at Columbus University. Malik (Omar Epps) is an African-American student attending on a track scholarship; academics are not his strong suit, and he goes in thinking that his athletic abilities will earn him a free ride through college. Fudge (Ice Cube), a "professional student" who has been at Columbus for six years so far, becomes friendly with Malik and
Jun 1, 1994 Wide
Jul 3, 2001
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
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Despite some likable performances (Epps is especially winning), the drama in Higher Learning is constricted, hemmed in by Singleton's compulsion to view his characters as walking paradigms of racial and sexual politics.
Higher Learning has a great many things on its mind, which immediately places it in a rather exclusive category of American films these days.
A stylish, intelligent film-maker, Singleton interweaves the threads of his demographic tapestry with assurance, passion and a welcome awareness of the complexities of the college community's contradictory impulses towards integration and separatism.
Everyone here, from beer-swilling white fraternity boys to rap-loving black students harassed by the campus police, can be judged at face value. Everyone is exactly what he or she seems.
Higher Learning is often clichéd, unfocused and didactic. But Singleton has a goal most of his contemporaries have given up on: He wants to make a movie that makes a difference.
Presenting problems is not the same as dramatizing them successfully, and as strong as his message is, Singleton has not found the best way to deliver it.
The film lapses into polarized melodrama but it's a handsome piece, displaying a fair understanding of our desperate need to belong.
Singleton gets points for exposing the hypocrisy of "politically correct" institutions, but stilted dialogue and cardboard characterizations undermine the message.
For anyone who's been to USC, it's a pretty hilarious parody of life there. If you take it as presented, however, it's over-dramatic and unbelievable.
Another tour-de-force for Singleton
John Singleton at his most pretentious and preachy.
Flawed but often arresting drama
A flawed endeavor... but still an entertaining and thought-provoking film.
Singleton deserves praise for shining the spotlight on some of today's biggest social issues; it's just unfortunate that the laws of cinema ultimately blunt some of his messages.
The plot would all mean something if Singleton offered his characters any engaging conflicts--they all seem recycled from movies of the week.
It's an ambitious but unfocused effort which is admirable for its balanced perspective but leaves critical characters as mere representations of the stereotypes it seems to be challenging.
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