Zebrahead (1992) - Rotten Tomatoes

Zebrahead (1992)

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Movie Info

An interracial romance sparks social upheaval in this indie drama from first-time writer/director Anthony Drazan. Jewish high school student Zack Glass (Michael Rapaport) lives with his widowed, womanizing father (Ray Sharkey) in one of the nicer areas of Detroit. His pop and grandfather own a pair of vintage record stores full of everything from swing and jazz to soul and disco; Zack carries on the vinyl-centric family tradition by selling hip-hop mix tapes out of his locker and mixing fiddles and Puccini into his DJ sets at local parties. One day at school, beautiful New Jersey transfer student Nikki (N'Bushe Wright) witnesses Zack's girlfriend unceremoniously dumping him; when it turns out that Zack's best friend, Dee Wimms (DeShonn Castle), is Nikki's cousin, the stage is set for romance -- the first interracial pairing for each teen. Dee is happy to play matchmaker, but members of the Wimms clan aren't as pleased with the romance. Nikki's mother, Marlene (Candy Ann Brown), asks Zack point-blank if he's curious about black women -- or just slumming it. Such mild disapproval is nothing compared to the rage felt by Nut (Ron Johnson), a young troublemaker who wants to romance Nikki himself. When Nikki overhears Zack making a racially insensitive comment about her to his pals at a party, she questions the viability of their relationship; the next day, she finds herself making time with Nut, who displays an unexpected tender streak. When Zack shows up at the local skating rink to talk to Nikki and sees Nut pestering her, things spiral out of control. Soon, the lines are drawn in a community-wide debate about interracial dating and urban violence. Zebrahead earned a Filmmaker's Trophy for Drazan at Sundance in 1992 and launched the successful careers of Rapaport and Wright. Indie fans will notice Kevin Corrigan in an elliptical subplot involving the industrial disintegration of the Motor City.

Cast

Ray Sharkey
as Richard
Lois Bendler
as Dominic's Mother
Dan Ziskie
as Mr. Cimino
Marsha Florence
as Mrs. Wilson
Jon Seda
as Vinnie
Liana Pai
as Connie
Luke Reilly
as Mr. Modell
Diane Jones
as Mrs. Jones
Harold Hogan
as Marlene's Boyfriend
William Ozier
as Reverend
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Critic Reviews for Zebrahead

All Critics (14) | Top Critics (4)

In the absence of the usual teen-movie pyrotechnics, Zebrahead has a quiet, stagy style, more like a 1950's teleplay with a social conscience than a stormy present-day tale of racial strife.

May 20, 2003 | Rating: 2.5/5
New York Times
Top Critic

Zebrahead is not so much a movie as notes toward a movie - a good one, judging by what's on the screen.

January 1, 2000 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

In Anthony Drazan's enjoyably offbeat Zebrahead, racial definition is the least important thing about anybody.

January 1, 2000 | Full Review…
Washington Post
Top Critic

Zebrahead is a thoughtful film that speaks honestly and hopefully to urban teens. Drazan has earned his stripes.

January 1, 2000 | Full Review…
Washington Post
Top Critic

The movie takes us to the two places where bigotry are both nurtured and perpetuated, the home (here single parent) and the racially diverse school, where the youngsters prove more mature and open-minded than their parents.

September 19, 2006 | Rating: B- | Full Review…
EmanuelLevy.Com

A movie more earnest and well-meaning than wholly successful, Zebrahead is still worthy of praise - if only for treating its teenagers like actual people.

November 14, 2002 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…
eFilmCritic.com

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