School Daze (1988)
The conflict between light-skinned and dark-skinned African Americans in a traditional black university is the subject of Spike Lee's semi-autobiographical film. This comedy-drama follows its ensemble cast over the course of the initiations week for the school's fraternities and sororities, alternating dramatic moments and fantastical sequences, including a musical number.
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Critic Reviews for School Daze
Lee has a small, intimate talent; here, he goes for the big podium and blows it.
For every tough-minded confrontation between the different student factions, School Daze is apt to offer a love scene less than vital to the plot, or an overlong musical scene whose effect is that of treading water.
School Daze, with its pompous patchwork plot, is an arrogant, humorless, sexist mess.
Although the film has big structural problems and leaves a lot of loose ends, there was never a moment when it didn't absorb me.
Spike Lee had something in mind while he shot School Daze, his follow-up to the cult hit She's Gotta Have It. Unfortunately it's still lodged behind his cranium.
A shapeless mess that falls far short of the high expectations created by Lee's first feature.
Some of the issues get lost in the mix, but strong performances by Lee and Fishburne make this a watchable and thought-provoking venture.
The film's political issues are far more interesting than its artistic attributes--this messy picture feels as if Spike Lee is just incidentally interested in what makes musical movies work
The film's central argument is that black matriculation is undercut by internal divisions.
An uneven but probably necessary stepping stone between "She's Gotta Have It" and "Do The Right Thing"
Uneven and a little dull, although the ending inspires.
ambitious, messy, rowdy comedy-drama, which tosses together fraternity foolishness, campus activism, lusty romance and even a few musical numbers
Audience Reviews for School Daze
Some truly funny scenes and pretty entertaining song-and-dance numbers. But just too slow -- it was about half an hour too long.More
This is producer/writer/director/co-star Spike Lee's sophmore effort: a musical dramedy set at a HBCU (historically black college or university) over the course of homecoming weekend.
What I found so engaging about the film is that it never once shows the perspective of white people, and instead looks at various issues (primarily black on black discrimination) solely from various and well rounded African American povs. The film is somewhat dated with specific issues, but the overall messages are still powerful and relevant.
I like musicals, but I don't know if that was really a good way to present this material. That, and only one of the numbers really grabbed me. I will say that the stomp competition sequence was well choreographed and executed though.
The performances are good, and you can see Lee's innovations and techniques getting better and better, but the film is a little weak structurally and leaves a few too many loose ends. However, it is entertaining, and makes some important contributions cinematically (but most culturally and socially), so I say give it a chance. It's not too bad.
I think the main problem with this movie is that it doesn't have a wide enough audience. It's audience is pretty much just African Americans who went to college and were in a fraternity around the time the movie takes place. It's very specific and hard to relate to. The actors were very good, but that's all I liked about this movie. The story goes nowhere, and the song and dance numbers annoy me. Overall, I wouldn't recommend it unless you can relate to it.More
It's a truly unique breed of film. It's not quite a comedy or a drama or a coming of age story, but a collaboration of the three. Spike Lee shows that not all college oriented films are dim witted and meaningless, but that they can have emotional backing and character development. Laurence Fishburne gives one of his better performances and shows a quality that I've rarely seen before in his work, vulnerability. One of the things that I love about the movie is that it pokes fun at some other movies where there are 2 opposing groups that are of the same race such as Grease(there's a great little musical number in it that mocks the style of it).More
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