Mo' Better Blues (1990) - Rotten Tomatoes

Mo' Better Blues (1990)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Mo' Better Blues Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

Trumpeter Bleek Gilliam has many problems: his jazz quintet is troubled by internal rivalry, his manager and friend is deeply in debt to a bookie, and he is torn between two women. Spike Lee's colorful, jazz-fueled drama follows Bleek's attempts to juggle his friends, lovers, and, most importantly, his music.more
Rating: R (adult situations/language, nudity, violence)
Genre: Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Spike Lee
On DVD: Dec 28, 2004
MCA Universal Home Video


Denzel Washington
as Bleek Gilliam
Spike Lee
as Giant
Wesley Snipes
as Shadow Henderson
Joie Lee
as Indigo Downes
Giancarlo Esposito
as Left Hand Lacey
John Turturro
as Moe Flatbush
Abbey Lincoln
as Lillian Gilliam
Robin Harris
as Butterbean Jones
Cynda Williams
as Clarke Bentancourt
Bill Nunn
as Bottom Hammer
Nicholas Turturro
as Josh Flatbush
Dick Anthony William...
as Big Stop Williams
Jeff "Tain" Watts
as Rhythm Jones
Steve White
as Born Knowledge
Coati Mundi
as Roberto
Zakee Howze
as Young Bleek/Miles
Jelani Asar Snipes
as Miles (age 1)
Glenn Williams III
as Miles (age 3)
Arnold Cromer
as Miles (age 5)
Bill Lee
as Father of the Bride
Branford Marsalis
as Party Guest
Douglas Bourne
as Jimmy the Busboy
Joe Seneca
as Big Stop's Friend
John Sobestanovich
as Taxi Driver
Flavor Flav
as Impatient Movie Patr...
Darryl M. Wonge Jr.
as Miles at Birth
Steve White (XXII)
as Born Knowledge
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Mo' Better Blues

Critic Reviews for Mo' Better Blues

All Critics (33) | Top Critics (10)

Personal rather than social issues come to the fore in Mo' Better Blues, a Spike Lee personality piece dressed in jazz trappings that puffs itself up like Bird but doesn't really fly.

Full Review… | September 22, 2008
Top Critic

Though it's full of striking visual ideas and actorly turns, it never fully convinces.

Full Review… | September 22, 2008
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Despite stylish camerawork and sturdy acting, this lengthy indulgence succeeds neither as jazz movie nor as cautionary tale.

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Mo' Better Blues is not a great film, but it's an interesting one, which is almost as rare.

Full Review… | October 23, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

From characters to camera angles, this story of a self-absorbed jazz trumpeter is one long cliche, the kind that might make his most loyal admirers wince and wonder, 'Spike, what happened?'

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

For the only time in his remarkable career, Spike Lee has failed to tell it like it is.

May 12, 2001
Rolling Stone
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Mo' Better Blues

what an incredible movie. i dont care for spike lee's themes of racial distinction in most of his films, and some of it that was present in this film were annoying, but this film was too brilliant not to love. it has quickly become one of my favorite movies of all time. i tried to identify wether this was a film about love or music, and then i realized its not about either, its a memoir of a musician. i think i like this film more than most for musical reasons and not film reasons, because im such a HUGE jazz fan, but the movie was well made and well acted. the diologue and ending were not typical rehearsed hollywood, they were genuine. many scenes were pointless and didnt further the plot at all, and in this film it was a good thing. it made the characters more real. denzel was incredible as usual, but the entire cast with the exception of indigo was chosen perfectly. the music scenes were really great and because i know jazz, i know that the things that happen to denzels character in this film happen to jazz musicians all the time. i may not always care for spike lee, but he did a wonderful job on this film.

danny d

Super Reviewer

Benefits from the fact that this is Spike Lee's debut and doesn't feature the preachiness that brings down his later efforts.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

Middling effort from Spike Lee. It had some good scenes and it was well acted, shot etc. I just didn't really like Denzel's character and I think I kind of was supposed to. It also went on longer than the material required.

Sean Lass

Super Reviewer

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