5.9/10
5,347
37 user 21 critic

School Daze (1988)

A not so popular young man wants to pledge to a popular fraternity at his historically black college.

Director:

Spike Lee

Writer:

Spike Lee

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1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Laurence Fishburne ... Dap (as Larry Fishburne)
Giancarlo Esposito ... Julian
Tisha Campbell-Martin ... Jane Toussaint (as Tisha Campbell)
Kyme Kyme ... Rachel Meadows
Joe Seneca ... President McPherson
Ellen Holly Ellen Holly ... Odrie McPherson
Art Evans ... Cedar Cloud
Ossie Davis ... Coach Odom
Bill Nunn ... Grady
James Bond III ... Monroe
Branford Marsalis ... Jordan
Kadeem Hardison ... Edge
Eric Payne Eric Payne ... Booker T. (as Eric A. Payne)
Spike Lee ... Half-Pint
Anthony Thompkins Anthony Thompkins ... Doo-Doo Breath
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Storyline

In the South of the United States are taking place confrontations between two groups of students who have different ideas and are not able to accept the one of the opponent. Written by Volker Boehm

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Musical

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

12 February 1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Aulas turbulentas See more »

Filming Locations:

Atlanta, Georgia, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$6,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,802,656, 15 February 1988, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$14,545,844
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Gamma Phi Gamma is a combination of two historically black fraternities: Alpha Phi Alpha and Omega Psi Phi. Omega Psi Phi members are known as the "Que Dogs", and their pledges used to shave their heads and eyebrows prior to becoming members. Alpha Phi Alpha colors are Black and Gold, and their mascot is the Sphinx. In the parade scene, the Gammas float has an Egyptian theme. See more »

Goofs

During "I Don't Want To Be Alone Tonight," the Gamma Rays' black gloves go from above the elbow, to below the elbow, and back again between shots. See more »

Quotes

Monroe: Learn to articulate, you juvenile delinquent!
See more »

Connections

Edited into Tongues Untied (1989) See more »

Soundtracks

I Can Only Be Me
Music and Lyrics by Stevie Wonder
Performed by Keith John
Produced by Stevie Wonder
Jobete Music Co., Inc./Black Bull Music, Inc. (ASCAP)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Fascinating, flawed but compulsively watchable
14 April 2008 | by ceebeegeeSee all my reviews

School Daze is billed as a musical comedy but is better described as a comedy-drama with musical numbers as commentary--the only non-diegetic number is "Good and Bad Hair," Lee's all-girl fantasy homage to West Side Story that addresses colorism between the "paper bag-light" sorority Gamma Rays and the darker activist girls. Ebert wrote that this was the first movie he'd seen in a while where the black characters relate to each other instead of a hypothetical white audience--it is this that gives the movie its engrossing authenticity. (If it matters, I'm white.)

As funny as the movie can be, it's also incredibly hard-hitting--there's a sequence in the last 20 minutes where Julian, "Big Brother Al-migh-tee," insists his girlfriend "prove" her love, that's almost unwatchable and yet brutally honest. Lee has been called sexist for his underwritten female characters--there may be some truth to that but School Daze is far more critical of the men than the women. Rachel, Dap's girlfriend, is perhaps the most levelheaded, likable character in the movie, and is strong and supportive of Dap while still maintaining her independence. Even the Gamma Rays, who come off as shallow and colorist in the beginning, are sympathetic as they stand up for and try to aid the pledges during hazing. The characters who come off the worst are the GPG brothers who are, almost to a man, brutish, sadistic and crude. Julian in particular is unredeemable--clever, manipulative and almost sociopathic in his treatment of Jane. Lee supposedly based the movie on his observations at Morehouse and the movie stands as a scathing indictment against the black fraternity system and its abuse of the women's auxiliaries (aka "Little Sisters").

The movie has structural weaknesses (the ending is problematic and seems to come out of nowhere although it fits thematically) but its biggest problem is Lee's flat performance as Half-Pint (and, frankly, he looks a little too old for it). I love Lee's movies but his early tendency to cast himself in major roles was a real weakness--he's just not a good enough actor and his performance always jerks me out of the story. The rest of the cast is fantastic, though, especially Tisha Campbell as Jane and Giancarlo Esposito as Julian. Notice must also be given to Bill Lee's wonderful score. Ultimately it's a movie whose heart and imagination overcome its flaws.


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