School Daze (1988)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

Much of School Daze is based on director Spike Lee's experiences while a student at Morehouse College in Atlanta. Laurence Fishburne plays what amounts to Lee's alter ego: a serious, self-involved student who tilts at such windmills as an insensitive administration and a deeply entrenched, social-climbing fraternity/sorority system. An inordinate amount of tension exists between the light- and dark-skinned African-American students; the lighter blacks are nicknamed "Wannabes," a reference to their emulation of upper-class white values, while the darker ones are labelled "Jigaboos." Characteristically, Spike Lee reserves a meaty supporting role for himself. He plays Half-Pint, a mixed-up freshman who willingly endures the basest of humiliations in order to be accepted by the "Wannabe" fraternity.
R (adult situations/language, nudity)
Comedy , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

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Spike Lee
as Half-Pint
Laurence Fishburne
as Dap Dunlap
Tisha Campbell-Martin
as Jane Toussaint
as Rachel Meadows
Joe Seneca
as President McPherson
Ellen Holly
as Odrie McPherson
Art Evans
as Cedar Cloud
Ossie Davis
as Coach Odom
Angela Ali
as Velda
Bill Nunn
as Grady
Harold L. Boyd III
as Alpha Phi Alpha
Eric Payne
as Booker T.
Anthony Thompkins
as Doo-Doo Breath
Guy Killum
as Double Rubber
Kirk Taylor
as Sir Nose
Kevin Rock
as Mussolini
Robert L. Cole Jr.
as Alpha Phi Alpha
Eric Dellums
as Slim Daddy
Cylk Cozart
as Big Brother Dr. Feelgood
Darryl M. Bell
as Big Brother X-Ray Vision
Rusty Cundieff
as Big Brother Chucky
Cilk Cozart
as Big Brother Dr. Feelgood
Tim Hutchinson
as Big Brother Lance
Leonard Thomas
as Big Brother Gen. George Patton
Joie Lee
as Lizzie Life
Alva Rogers
as Doris Witherspoon
Ivan Goff
as EU Band
Jacquelyn Bird
as Jacquelyn
Sharon Ferrol
as Sharon
Rod Hodge
as Alpha Phi Alpha
Stephanie Clark
as Stephanie
John Keith
as Singer at Coronation
Frances Morgan
as Frances
Derrek W. Jones
as Alpha Phi Alpha
Monique Mannen
as Monique `Mo-Freak'
Gregg Burge
as Virgil Cloyd
Cinqué Lee
as Buckwheat
Paula Birth
as Carla
A.J. Johnson
as Cecilia
Tracey Lewis
as Counter Girl
Florante P. Galvez
as Student in Bathroom
Leslie Sykes
as Miss Mission
Reginald Tabor
as Alpha Phi Alpha Member
Lester McCorn
as Alpha Phi Alpha Member
William N. Ross
as Alpha Phi Alpha Member
Keith E. Wright
as Alpha Phi Alpha Member
Dawn Jackson
as 1st Attendant
Angela Lewis
as 2nd Attendant
Phyllis Hyman
as Phyllis
Bill Lee
as Phyllis Hyman Quartet
Kent Wood
as EU Band
Consuela Lee Morehead
as Phyllis Hyman Quartet
Harold Vick
as Phyllis Hyman Quartet
Joe Chambers
as Phyllis Hyman Quartet
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Critic Reviews for School Daze

All Critics (20) | Top Critics (5)

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

Full Review… | June 23, 2006
Time Out
Top 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
New York Times
Top 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.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Washington Post
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Washington Post
Top 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.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Skin tone is crucial to understanding School Daze's brazenness as a major-studio film.

Full Review… | September 6, 2015

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.

Letitia Lew
Letitia Lew

Super Reviewer


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.

Chris Weber
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.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer

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