Passing Strange The Movie

Critics Consensus

Spike Lee's document of the Tony Award-winning musical Passing Strange is every bit as compelling onscreen as it was on stage.

100%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 25

90%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 707
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Passing Strange The Movie Photos

Movie Info

Spike Lee's adaptation of the Broadway show "Passing Strange" presents the portrait of a musician as a young man. In 1970s Los Angeles, a talented but rebellious middle-class African-American discovers punk rock. Through the intervention of a sincere choir director, the young man travels to Europe, where his talents blossom, but at the expense of those who care for him. The film is based on the life of musician Stew, who appears as narrator and commentator on his younger, rasher self.

Cast & Crew

Stew
Narrator
De'Adre Aziza
Edwina , Marianna , Sudabey
Colman Domingo
Mr.Franklin , Joop , Mr. Venus
Chad Goodridge
Rev. Jones , Terry , Christophe , Hugo
Rebecca Naomi Jones
Sherry , Renata , Desi
Karen Pittman
Mom - Understudy
Spike Lee
Director
Spike Lee
Producer
Matthew Libatique
Cinematographer
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News & Interviews for Passing Strange

Critic Reviews for Passing Strange

All Critics (25) | Top Critics (10) | Fresh (25)

Audience Reviews for Passing Strange

  • Dec 21, 2010
    In 1976, a young man(Daniel Breaker) is sleeping in on a Sunday morning in South Central Los Angeles. His mother(Eisa Davis) has other plans for him including church to which she drags him. While there, he has a religious experience but not the one she was hoping for. The message is musical, as the young man falls under the spell of Mr. Franklin(Colman Domingo), the son of the pastor. That leads to him being in a punk rock band with Sherry(Rebecca Naomi Jones) and Terry(Chad Goodridge). This is a film of the last performance of the musical "Passing Strange" at the Belasco Theatre on July 20, 2008. As such, one could argue its cinematic merits and its Broadway origins and cliches.(So many poseurs, so little time.) But what is undeniable is how entertaining the movie is, mixing genres and types of music freely. What resonated with me the most is something the narrator(Stew, who also wrote the book and co-wrote the music) said while speaking from either a podium(read into whatever symbolism you like) or sitting at a desk in that we make the biggest decisions of our life while we are teenagers, which could involve college, work or to leave home for the first time. Like the young man in the play, I thought it an easy decision but only deceptively so since I had no idea of what kind of person I would turn out to be.
    Walter M Super Reviewer
  • Sep 28, 2009
    Now this was most excellent. Very entertaining musical with great performances and interesting format. Stew is highly entertaining, and Spike Lee does a great job of capturing the live performance vibe with a good blend of camera angles and shots.
    Julie B Super Reviewer
  • Sep 21, 2009
    Your enjoyment of this film will probably be in some sort of equal proportion to your enjoyment of the show (if you saw it). What is great about Spike Lee's document of a performance of this not-like-anything-else musical is his remarkable eye for where you should be looking, and as he cuts from vantage point to vantage point he is unerring in focusing the work; if the close-ups sometimes rob the larger picture of its glory, they also have the benefit of making the non-linear more explicable... My appreciation of the piece remains a little distanced, but the parts that I love I out and out love. And there were more of those than I remembered, that's for sure.
    Jeff T Super Reviewer
  • Jun 03, 2009
    Flashy filmed performance of a Broadway stage play. Set in the late 1970s, a young black musician rebels against his church-going, middle-class, South Central roots by traveling the world in an effort to experience something "real" in life. Los Angeles performance artist Stew narrates what is essentially a concert trip through a dizzying number of musical styles that touch upon gospel, punk, blues, jazz, and rock. The ubiquitous score is excellent, but it's surrounded by an incredibly stagy artifice with a noticeable lack of sets, that feels overly avant-garde. We're constantly reminded that this is a filmed play. Even the acting is affected and unnatural. The passion felt by those who were in attendance in that theater is not the same emotion felt as a viewer watching it on a screen. Brilliantly catchy songs include: "Love Like That", "Amsterdam" and "We Just Had Sex".
    Mark H Super Reviewer

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