Like most of Lee's work, this bites off more than it can chew, but the breadth and energy are impressive.
This is trashy exploitation at its clumsiest. Once more, a Spike Lee movie has been undone by the earnestness of being important.
Trouble is, the overlong narrative, however entertaining from minute to minute, is a mess.
The disappointment with Summer of Sam is not that it's exploitative; it's just difficult to figure out what it's supposed to be about.
| Original Score: 2.5/4
Lee is a powerful filmmaker who certainly knows how to have an impact on an audience, but those who survive his ministrations are likely to wonder if in this case the battle was worth the bruises.
| Original Score: 2.5/5
Lee's biggest mistake is in the last half-hour, where he extends an already long film with a series of dialogue scenes, which appear to be variations on improv workshops between the actors.
A pedestrian-looking mishmash of a movie!
Summer of Sam scatters most of its force by straying far from the compelling, plenty-complex business at hand.
| Original Score: 1/4
A ragged mess that only rarely connects with its audience or with a point.
An incoherent mess!
I felt like I wasn't watching it, I was in it.
The script, by Lee, Victor Colicchio and Michael Imperioli, is tighter than those for other Lee movies, but it's still too long and too broad.
Even the most colorful and/or poignant characters in Summer of Sam have a plastic, servicing-the-plot quality.
Lee's best films thrum with a wound-up energy, and Summer of Sam vibrates with fear, guilt and lust.
| Original Score: 3.5/4
Lee's just not a good enough filmmaker - and finally, not smart enough - to achieve the grand statements that he's apparently after.
Messy and belligerent.
The elements are there but the movie isn't.
The film has no center to hold it together: It feels much, much smaller than its parts.
This is the closest Lee has yet come to Scorsese territory!
Excruciatingly long and overdirected!
A colorful, wacked-out film. It's a movie nostalgic for a bad time.
| Original Score: 3/4
Lee does a superb job!
| Original Score: 2/4
A terrific movie: jolting, savage, horrifically funny, nightmarishly exciting but also brainy and compassionate.
If Lee could swap background with foreground, this would be a sensational film.
In Summer of Sam, Spike Lee isn't interested in truth - or coherence, for that matter.
| Original Score: C