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Higher Learning (1994)



Average Rating: 4.8/10
Critic Reviews: 12
Fresh: 5 | Rotten: 7

No consensus yet.



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Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 20,495

My Rating

Movie Info

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



John Singleton

Jul 3, 2001

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

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All Critics (34) | Top Critics (12) | Fresh (17) | Rotten (17) | DVD (8)

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.

July 6, 2010 Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Higher Learning has a great many things on its mind, which immediately places it in a rather exclusive category of American films these days.

October 18, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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.

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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.

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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.

May 12, 2001
Rolling Stone
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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.

February 13, 2001 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The film lapses into polarized melodrama but it's a handsome piece, displaying a fair understanding of our desperate need to belong.

July 25, 2010 Full Review Source: Film4

Singleton gets points for exposing the hypocrisy of "politically correct" institutions, but stilted dialogue and cardboard characterizations undermine the message.

July 25, 2010 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

There's some nice ideas and realistically felt characters here.

December 6, 2005 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

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.

November 3, 2005
New Times

Another tour-de-force for Singleton

March 23, 2005

John Singleton at his most pretentious and preachy.

January 27, 2004
KFOR Channel 4 News

...John Singleton's third (and best) film.

August 1, 2003 Full Review Source: Reel Film Reviews
Reel Film Reviews

Flawed but often arresting drama

June 4, 2003
Kalamazoo Gazette

Almost unwatchable.

March 4, 2003 | Comment (1)
Juicy Cerebellum

A flawed endeavor... but still an entertaining and thought-provoking film.

May 25, 2002

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.

September 10, 2001 Full Review Source: Apollo Guide
Apollo Guide

The plot would all mean something if Singleton offered his characters any engaging conflicts--they all seem recycled from movies of the week.

June 12, 2001 Full Review Source:

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.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source:

Energetic, uneven but engaging.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: San Francisco Examiner
San Francisco Examiner

Audience Reviews for Higher Learning

a gripping story of race relations at the university level. thankfully most universities are beyond this, as is much of american society, but there are still places in the u.s. where this sort of tragic ignorance remains and this is a great film to address the issues. many only decent actors really stepped up their game for this film, and rapaport was simply sensational. an underrated and under appreciated film.
January 25, 2010
danny d

Super Reviewer

John Singleton's ability to delve into multi-issues and stories creates a superb drama in the most unusual of settings - a university campus. Headed by a superb cast including Michael Rapport, Jennifer Connelly, Ice Cube, Omar Epps, and Kristy Swanson, Higher Learning visualises freshman's first step into the new world, and the many issues and lessons they have to deal and learn to make it. From racial, sexual, political and personal, this movie engages these issues in a maze of superb acting and lines, with credit going to Laurence Fishburne as the Political Science lecturer who steals his screen slots with his thoughtful, powerful and engaging presence and lessons. Ice Cube is also a standout, playing a ghetto student, obviously entrenched in the black stigmata and social status, but showing that he is also a refined and poltically savvy individual with heart and a will to learn and build his own ideals and apply it to the world around him.
Watch this for a good insight into uni or college life and the many views from many sides - a movie which works to create understanding - and show that not everything that needs to be learnt is in a classroom.

For those who are willing to open their eyes to understanding and objectivity - but as Fishburne states: this isn't about objectivity - you have to make a stand.

Welcome to the real world.
February 27, 2009
Khris N

Super Reviewer

In this movie we learn everyone is an ignorant dick and Singleton will never make a better movie than Boyz N Tha Hood.
January 27, 2009

Super Reviewer

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