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Reviews & Ratings for
Get on the Bus More at IMDbPro »

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14 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Spike Lee's morality statement on Black America

Author: JawsOfJosh from Chicago
3 November 2000

Armed with 16mm cameras, a miniscule budget financed independently by 15 different black businessmen, and a wonderful script, Spike shot "Get On The Bus" and released it to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the 1995 Million Man March. Set on a bus bound for Washington D.C., this film examines the problems and opinions of various of black men on racial issues in the 90's.

Family, misogyny, homosexuality, religion, violence, education, and economics are all addressed here as well as other issues. Spike does not only shed light on issues that pertain to black peoples involvement in White America, but the film also attacks color-consciousness among light-skinned and dark-skinned blacks (as he did in "School Daze"). Like "School Daze," this may be the only other Spike Lee film that seems to be aimed directly at Black America, and Spike shows the varying degrees of complexity with his cast of characters. There is a rage-filled actor, a homosexual couple in the midst of separating (one out-and-proud, the other closeted), a sensitive cop, a level-headed family man, a gangbanger turned Sunni Muslim, a naive filmmaker, and a tired, defeated elderly man. There is also an estranged father who sees the March as an opportunity to re-connect with his resentful, bound-for-crime teenage son. His son has been recently convicted of burglary and has been ordered to remain "chained" to his father for 48 hours, the irony of which does not escape the other members on the bus.

Given the film is almost set entirely on a bus, Spike restrains himself in dispensing out his evolving camera and editing styles, using only a brief sequence set in a desert to bleach the screen with a heavy yellow tint. Many Spike Lee regulars are in the film, like Ossie Davis and Isaiah Washington who give sound performances (Davis' "I lost everything" monologue is especially moving). The real notable acting is provided by Andre Braugher as an angry, egocentric actor whose rage is fortunately balanced for him with a healthy dose of articulated intelligence and Roger Guenever Smith as a sensitive, bi-racial cop who works in South Central Los Angeles. Those two really are the stand-outs in this film.

The dialogue is so flowing and casual in this film despite its topic matter, that you could listen to this film instead of watch it! I can't recommend this film enough for fans of Spike Lee or fans of great dialogue. As a Spike Lee worshipper, I rank this film in his top 5. Potent.

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10 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Powerfully good

Author: dee.reid from United States
22 November 2002

I just got done watching Spike Lee's "Get on the Bus" for the first time in about a year. The movie is done in a manner, I can't really describe it, that is very different from previous efforts by Spike Lee. The film follows a bus of about twenty men, all African-American, on a trip to Washington, D.C. to attend the Million March that was held there in 1995, about a year before this movie was made. We follow each of the men, including a father and son who have tethered together on a court order; a homophobic actor, who takes an immediate disliking to two homosexual men; a cop whose father was killed in the line of duty; a former gang member who is now a social services worker for troubled kids who he's trying to keep from living a life in gangs; an up and coming film student, who is video taping the event so he can show it to his future children; and an open-hearted elderly man who is going to the Million Man March simply because he wants to.

"Get on the Bus" is in my opinion, one of Spike Lee's best films. Each of the characters are unique in one a way or another.

A film that is not to be missed.

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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

This is something ALL America can relate to.

Author: Malcolm P ( from Jacksonville, Florida
6 June 2001

Get On The Bus is probably one greatest movies people do NOT know about. This movie places men of all ages and different backgrounds together headed to The Million Man March. Although many may not relate to Farrakhan and his beliefs, they will, however, be educated on issues of race, unity, and respect. Regardless of skin color or ethnic background, people can easily relate to the characters on-screen. If anything, Get On The Bus will teach anyone to have a deeper love and appreciation of our fellow man.

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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

"STAGE" Coach - An Inspired Analysis of Black Layers

Author: psp777 from LONDON
3 January 2006

NO SPOILERS A real stunner from Spike Lee using his characteristic mental conundrums to mix a wide spectrum of all black male "individual" characters on the way to a march/event in Washington; a Gay couple, a truculent/homophobic guy/LAPD Cop/an Elder/a young Gang Member chained to his Father on a Judge's release understanding and many other interesting guys you would pass on the street - maybe without a second glance - until you see this film.

For me, a single white guy, I felt the film successfully served to strip away more than the fair share of stereotypical notions maintained in the collective consciousness of both black and white - "GET ON THE BUS" hits the spot over and over, and held my attention from start to finish.

The 'journey' travels along with the interaction of the characters, split into scenes by a great and meaningful soundtrack - the road is but a short journey but a longer way through the soul to give understanding.

Whilst the conclusion/end of the film was probably one of the most powerful messages, I did feel a little disappointment - but as I write, instead of me whining for a better ending, my mind has traversed across millions of attitudes and set free many images that had been lodged in my simple mind.

This may not sound like a riveting review - but you'll need to watch it - you'll be nourished.

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7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Buy your ticket and enjoy the ride!!

Author: John Taylor ( from Bedfordshire, England
2 January 2000

Get on the bus is a superb film in every way. The acting , the story ,the photography and the sound track are a joy to behold. Spike Lee should be praised for his unbiased view on the struggle for black rights in America. You may not always agree with some of the sentements of the film but you cant help be captivated. Dont miss it! 8 out of 10

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

I'm almost willing to say it's Spike Lee's best film.

Author: mrgray83 from USA
16 April 2005

I can't forget about the extraordinary Do The Right Thing though.

Get On The Bus follows the bus trip of a group of brothers on their way to the Million Man March. The acting is top of the line. The actor playing Evan Junior is a perfect match for his character. He turns in one of the greatest performances. The script is perfect and it only proves to be stronger when you remember that the film was shot in sequence. Which leads me to another point. Anyone with even a small amount of film-making understanding knows that it would have been hell to shoot this film in 35mm, so Spike Lee recorded in a smaller print and had it blown up. The result is a film that's almost documentary style but works perfectly.

Throughout the course of the film, Spike Lee introduces us to various personifications of the black man. Notice I used the word personifications, not stereotypes. We have a self hating brother, who is picked up halfway through the trip, who puts down on black schools and colleges. We have a highly homophobic brother who's loud and arrogant at the same time. We have a Muslim brother who has no lines but is integral even without lines. There are black republicans along on the trip. Two black homosexuals. And to top it off it's filmed entirely on a bus trip except for a few scenes which Spike Lee stated were on a sound stage.

Great film. 9/10

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Spike's paean to the black man in America, 1996

Author: tnrcooper from Korea
15 February 2008

I'm not a black man in America, but I've loved all of Spike's films and quite frankly, I wish people (not, by and large, the commenters on this film, refreshingly) would attempt to make films "black" or "white" or "Latino" or any other social or political or religious demeaner. This is a wonderful film and all people should be able to appreciate it. I would like to respond to those who think this is a "white-berating" movie or something. One word: please.

The vast majority of the dialogue in this film is African-American focused and there is very little criticism of The White Man. Those of you who claim otherwise, well, to quote Shakespeare, "I think thou doth protest too much."

Lee has given the black man, as they like to say in liberal arts grad school programs, agency. He has presented the wide range of black circumstances. These are not victims of drive-by shootings, gang-bangers, or basketball players. I did find the characters a bit stock in their very attempts to convey such distinctly different elements of the black experience. It was as though Spike ticked off boxes saying, OK, we have a conservative black man, we have a struggling middle-class black man, we have an egomaniacal black man..but having said that, it is only possible for that to be a criticism because as viewers, we are so unused to seeing black men depicted in complex ways.

As a white guy who's worked in largely minority schools for a decade and was The White Guy who'd attend all the functions of the minority student association events in college-that is to say, I enjoyed learning about all manner of racial diversity, I don't think, that as a white person, it's appropriate to judge the fitness of folks of another ethnicity to use words which might seem a little coarse. If people want to use those words, when they do not refer to me, what is it to me? If white folks hadn't been using those words back in the day, the use of those words would not even be an issue now. Anyway, I'm rambling, but it seems that this film was made, essentially, as one of those rare vehicles which allows people (not that many people saw this film, of course.....) to see black men as humans.

We see an egomaniacal, sexually-insecure man named Smooth (the fantastic Andre Braugher). We see a light-skinned African American (the very talented Roger Guenver Smith) who must answer barbed criticisms from Smooth about his claim to a legitimate place in the African-American community, Charles Dutton, criminally underemployed in modern movies as the organizer of the bus journey to the Million Man March and the glue who holds (as best he can) the trip together. We see two gay men (Isaiah Washington (ya really think the man is homophobic?)) and Henry Lennix as Randall (also excellent) whose relationship is challenged by Randall's insecurity about it. Ossie Davis is brilliant as an older man who largely keeps his counsel but when needed to keep the train from coming off the tracks, seems to know just how to calm the storm. A hard-working middle-class man named Evan (the reliable Thomas Byrd Jr., a regular in Lee's movies) is struggling with how best to raise his son. His heart is in the right place but the job is not easy. His son, Jamal (Gabriel Casseus giving a nuanced performance communicating all range of depth and yet at the same time, the simplicity which only a young person can convey). The black man who turns out to be self-hating, and who joins the bus (for a short time, in Memphis), Wendell, is amusingly and with a great deal of satisfaction, I would imagine, to all positive and forward-thinking blacks (and folks of other colors) dealt with quite appropriately. His behavior is quite disgraceful and as I watched him I hoped that he would get the harsh comeuppance which he did indeed receive.

The cinematography of the bus travelling through the American west is bleached out in order to convey the starkness of the landscape and in order that the focus remains on these rich, wonderfully human characters. Lee does a fantastic job directing. I'm not willing to say this is his best film when the man has directed "Do The Right Thing", and "When the Levees Break" which is all you need to know about Hurricane Katrina. But saying this film is worse than those two is not saying anything bad about this film. It is excellent and it is a tribute to black men which more people should see so that in America more people understand that black men are as diverse as there are grains of sand on the ocean.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

This is the journey of a bus that is worth getting on.

Author: mifunesamurai from Australia
17 February 2003

We join the bus ride with a group of Black Americans as they journey to the Million Man March. During this journey, the camera enters the soul and beliefs of each character that represents a whole spectrum of the Black community. Their conversations range from the politics to the religions and beyond their inner-self . Each one finding new meaning to their life and destiny. Reggie's preachy but fascinating script is handled masterfully by the genius Spike Lee.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Spike Lee's best work

Author: s008157 from CANADA
31 October 1999

Let me begin by letting you know I am neither black or white. I say this so you don't think I speak from a particular bias. I firmly believe that Spike Lee captured the central epic struggle within the black community and its overall effect on the American landscape as a whole. I was happy to see that ALL aspects of the society were equally represented in this film without reinforcing dated stereotypes. This is clearly Lee's greatest work.


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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Excellent, Highly Underrated Film

Author: bryanac625 from Maryland
3 July 2004

I always intended to watch this movie for a long time but I kept putting it off. I was really surprised at how excellent and well-written this movie actually was. If you enjoy films where a group of diverse people are put into a situation and then left to deal with each other (eg "Twelve Angry Men"), then you must see this movie.

This film was also very intelligent. I think too many people believe that if you get a group of black men together for anything, they'll soon be calling each other "nigga" and violence will erupt, not necessarily in that order. About halfway through the movie, I told my wife that the n-word had not been used at all, and no punches had been thrown.

But I was wrong.

What made it even more interesting was the way the men responded to the person who called everyone "nigga," and there was a fight, which occurred between a homosexual and an arrogant, big-mouthed guy who kept calling him "faggot." I don't condone violence, but the gay guy knocked him down a peg or two, and he certainly had it coming.

This film also solidifies Andre Braugher as an incredible actor. He has taken on such diverse roles and here, he was outstanding. So many of these actors were. Almost every scenario and discussion is covered in two hours well spent.

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