Mo' Better Blues (1990)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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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.
R (adult situations/language, nudity, violence)
Directed By:
Written By:
MCA Universal Home Video

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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 Williams
as Big Stop Williams
Jeff "Tain" Watts
as Rhythm Jones
Steve White
as Born Knowledge
Linda Hawkins
as Jeanne
Coati Mundi
as Roberto
Zakee Howze
as Young Bleek/Miles
Deon Richmond
as Tyrone
Jelani Asar Snipes
as Miles (age 1)
Glenn Williams III
as Miles (age 3)
Arnold Cromer
as Miles (age 5)
Herbert Daughtry
as Minister
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 Patron
Darryl M. Wonge Jr.
as Miles at Birth
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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 8, 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?'

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

Plenty of style and energy, but not enough soul.

Marcus Woolcott
Marcus Woolcott

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
Sean Lass

Super Reviewer

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