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Light It Up (1999)

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A group of teens is bent on improving the run-down conditions of their high-school.



5 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Principal Allan Armstrong
Capt. Monroe
Audrey McDonald (as Vanessa L. Williams)
Gaddiel Otero ...
Arturo Orosco
Frank Dominelli ...
Sgt. Tortino
Reggie Theus ...
Intel. Officer #1
Intel. Officer #2


On a winter day in a southside Queens high school, events collide and six students are suddenly in an armed standoff with the NYPD. At the school, classrooms freeze, teachers come and go, resources are scant. When a popular teacher is suspended, a few students protest. Jackson, a new security guard, gets tough. In a scuffle, Jackson's wounded with his own gun and a student takes him hostage. A few kids join in, for various reasons. An ineffective policewoman tries to mediate as the police plan an assault, the kids demand improvements to the school, the media pick up the story, and Jackson turns sympathetic. But are too many forces in motion for the students to stay in control? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


In the biggest situation in your life, How Far will you go to resist it? See more »


Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and violent content | See all certifications »




Release Date:

10 November 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Generación perdida  »


Box Office


$13,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$2,408,613, 14 November 1999, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$5,871,603, 16 January 2000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


This is the second time in a movie that Forest Whitaker asks another man to help him urinate. This also occurred in The Crying Game (1992). See more »


During and after the scene when Knowles calls Lester from the pay phone it is snowing outside. However, between the call ending and Lester taking the guard to the roof, there is a cutaway shot of a helicopter and two snipers and there is no sign of any snow. See more »


Officer Dante Jackson: Come here, son.
Lester Dewitt: Don't call me son. I'm not your son.
See more »


References Jerry Springer (1991) See more »


If Only in Heaven's Eyes
Written by Kenneth 'Babyface' Edmonds (as "Babyface")
Performed by *NSYNC (as 'N Sync)
'N Sync appears by arrangement of BMG-Ariola Muenchen GmbH, RCA Records, TransContinental Records,
Inc. and Zeeks, Inc.
See more »

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User Reviews

Silly, another teen angst movie
17 January 2001 | by See all my reviews

This one has some really good things going for it--chief among them some really good choices for the cast, especially Forest Whittaker. He's quite good as a cop taken hostage by some dissatisfied high school students. The younger cast is pretty good too.

Having said that, this movie really was poor. It tries to produce some ambiguity at the very beginning about how these students somehow got into this hostage situation. But in reality, there's very little ambiguity: the teens assault a police officer, and then point a firearm at him, which during a struggle to obtain it goes off wounding him. They subsequently take the officer hostage, with of the course the threat that he will be further harmed. Just in those few sentences, a number of extremely serious crimes are committed--and it's hard to have much sympathy for these youths no matter how much they may feel misunderstood or ignored.

It would be easier to take such a silly movie in stride, much like "Wild in the Streets" or "Rock N' Roll High School" as just another teen rebel movie if it didn't take itself so deadly seriously. The atrocious script really does a disservice to the actors who are almost all good, the exception going to Vanessa Williams, who is gorgeous but pretty limp here. So many legitimate issues about education, schools, police attitudes, urban decay, teen safety, and so poorly done.

Yet another missed opportunity to put on Hollywood's long list.

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