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School Daze (1988)

tomatometer

20

Average Rating: 3.8/10
Critic Reviews: 5
Fresh: 1 | Rotten: 4

No consensus yet.

audience

82

liked it
Average Rating: 3.8/5
User Ratings: 8,773

My Rating

Movie Info

Fraternity and sorority members clash with the other students at a historically black university in this politically charged musical, which marked the sophomore feature from director Spike Lee. Dap (Laurence Fishburne) is a politically conscious brother who leads anti-apartheid demonstrations and eschews the social climbing of the Greek system. But Half-Pint (Lee), his craven young cousin, is willing to endure any humiliation to join the manly Gamma fraternity. As Half-Pint tries unsuccessfully

R,

Drama, Comedy

Jan 30, 2001

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

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All Critics (20) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (11) | Rotten (8) | DVD (10)

Lee has a small, intimate talent; here, he goes for the big podium and blows it.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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.

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

School Daze, with its pompous patchwork plot, is an arrogant, humorless, sexist mess.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A shapeless mess that falls far short of the high expectations created by Lee's first feature.

September 23, 2008 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Some of the issues get lost in the mix, but strong performances by Lee and Fishburne make this a watchable and thought-provoking venture.

September 23, 2008 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

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

November 29, 2006 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

The film's central argument is that black matriculation is undercut by internal divisions.

February 13, 2005 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

An uneven but probably necessary stepping stone between "She's Gotta Have It" and "Do The Right Thing"

June 7, 2004
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

Uneven and a little dull, although the ending inspires.

March 10, 2004

ambitious, messy, rowdy comedy-drama, which tosses together fraternity foolishness, campus activism, lusty romance and even a few musical numbers

December 19, 2002 Full Review Source: Kalamazoo Gazette
Kalamazoo Gazette

Even with all its flaws, School Daze is worth seeing, because Lee gets into areas no director before had even bothered to come near.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: eFilmCritic.com
eFilmCritic.com

Audience Reviews for School Daze

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.
November 5, 2011
cosmo313
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

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.
February 17, 2011
ajv2688

Super Reviewer

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).
November 18, 2009
ythelastman89

Super Reviewer

Good movie with an important message. The musical numbers were pretty funny. But the end was terribly hokey, like that would ever work in real life.
March 9, 2007
purplemegan

Super Reviewer

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