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James Earl Jones
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Maria Luísa Mendonça
In the mid-1960's, a group of high school friends who live on the Near North Side of Chicago enjoy life to the fullest...parties, hanging out, meeting new friends. Then life changes for two of the guys when they meet a pair of career criminals and get falsely arrested in connection with stealing a Cadillac. We follow their lives through the end of high school and the dramatic end to their school year. Written by
This film, which was the foundation for "What's Happening?", contains the very things that recent films about teens and high school lack: comedy, and true emotion. The film takes place in Chicago, 1964, and centers on a group of lower-class black kids, including Preach, a smart student, and his close friend, Cochise, a great athlete who's on the verge of getting a scholarship. While it does contain similarities to George Lucas' "American Graffitti", the film has a lot of energy and substance to easily overlook that fact. There are many funny moments, including a scene where the boys joyride with Preach behind the wheel; a scene where the boys cut class and head to the zoo, ending with a hilarious encounter with a gorilla; and a scene where Preach hides from gangbangers in an occupied bathroom. There's also romance in the film, as Preach attempts to woo classy beauty Brenda; the two even lose their virginity together in a truly tasteful scene. The movie ends in tragedy, and since the characters have depth, we feel the loss. I highly recommend this one to all; it's got more going for it than 99.9% of what's playing today (and it's got a great Motown soundtrack to boot!).
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