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Must have seen a different movie
Basilisk-66 May 2002
I must have been watching a different movie to most of the people adding comments. I didn't see it as a film portraying African Americans as good and whites as bad but as a film in which all the factions were shown to have good and bad sides. Even the guy who becomes the Nazi skinhead was portrayed sympathetically in as much as he is clearly out of his depth in a social situation and becomes a recruit because only the skinheads will accept him when no-one else will. Overall, the African Americans come out as the most sympathetic but not by much.

I agree there are some fairly silly stereotypes, especially Fishburne's character, but they work in the context of the movie. Most refreshing was the fact that an American college is portrayed as a place with real issues like racism and date rape and drunken behaviour. It's refreshing because colleges are usually shown as places where nice middle-class kids never have any problem bigger than being dumped by their boyfriends before everything is resolved in the last reel.

An overly maligned movie. Not perfect but better than a million other college movies. Loved the ending too.
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A muddled mix of stereotypes and paper thin characters in a filmthat mistakenly thinks it is deep and insightful
bob the moo13 July 2003
Columbus University is one of the finest in America. Into this place of higher learning comes a mix of students to join the already multicultural pot. Malik is a black track star who feels he is disadvantaged as he has to run and study, while others only have to run. Remy is a white teenager who is forced out of his dorm by his black roommate and finds friendship in an extreme group. Kristen is a young female who struggles to make friends and is assaulted by a man before falling in with a women's group. Their experiences intertwine in the small campus.

If anyone wonders why director John Singleton (he of Boyz n' the Hood) is now making things like 2Fast2Furious, this is as good a place to start looking as anywhere. After an assured start with Boyz, the director made a couple of films that had potential but just came out muddled or lacking something to make them work. Poetic Justice was one of them and this was another. Higher Learning had potential and you can see that it's heart is in the right place but it doesn't come off at all. The plot tries to be a mix of experiences but, because there are three or so characters up front, there is no time to develop them so their experiences are broad cultural brush strokes - the white kid sucked into extremism, the raped girl taken into lesbianism, the black man who has to work harder for everything.

As a result the plot never really engages and it all just goes where you expect it to go - and is less impacting as a result of it's plodding nature. This spills over into the characters too - they are all pretty much stereotypes that fit into their scenario rather than real characters. Singleton shows is bias in his direction and character selection. My wife said something about me watching a lot of `black' films in the past week and I said Higher Learning was not dominated by any one race - but I think I was wrong. Singleton clearly likes the characters played by Busta Rhymes, Ice Cube and Epps - they are cool and put upon where other characters (races) have fewer kind touches placed on them. Personally I thought every character had huge chips on their shoulders about their identity - but the African American characters are the only ones that are held up for praise in relation to their chips!

Having said that I did think Epps did OK - he made a lifeless character a little more interesting. Banks however is as one dimensional as I have grown to expect from her. Rapaport looks very young indeed but he does well. His character is lazily drawn and developed, but he manages to make him a little human - which took work looking at the film as a finished product. Swanson is too dippy and light - but then all the lesbian characters seem to be painted in a weird sort of light. Ice Cube and Busta Rhymes give extended cameos which require them to deliver their rap personas of thugz - they are laughably clichéd! Fishburne adds gravitas as he always does, but he has little to do and is given not only a poor accent, but also some `deep' dialogue that just sounds pretentious or like a fortune cookie.

Overall I saw what this film was trying to do but it didn't manage it. It was ambitious, but the wide spread meant that none of the plots or characters were allowed to develop and instead were left as hollow, broad stereotypes and scenarios. The film tries to go all deep and the final shot of the word `unlearn' against an American flag just feels like Singleton must have thought that he had been making incredibly profound points the whole time - instead it felt that his original idea had had a deeper point, but it was totally lost in delivery.
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Well-Rounded View of Extreme Points of View
jrfranklin0111 December 2004
The film's design seems to be the alpha and omega of some of the major issues in this country (U.S.). We see relationships all over at the university setting for the film. Befittingly, the obvious of student v.s. teacher is present. But what the film adds to its value is its other relationships: male v.s. female, white v.s. black, and the individual v.s. society. But most important of all and in direct relation to all of the other relationships is the individual v.s. himself.

I was amazed at how bilateral a point of view the director gave to showing the race relations on campus. Most films typically show the injustices of one side while showing the suffering of the other. This film showed the injustices and suffering of both sides. It did not attempt to show how either was right, although I would say the skin heads were shown a much crueler and vindictive (quite obvious towards the end). The film also discusses sex and rape. It is ironically this injustice that in some ways brings the two races together, for a time. Lawrence Fishburne does an over-the-top performance as the sagacious Profesor Phipps. He crumbles the idea of race favortism and instead shows the parallelism of the lazy and down-trodden with the industrious and positive. Other stars that make this film are Omar Epps, Ice Cube, and Jennifer Connelly. Michael Rapaport gives an excellent portrayal of a confused youth with misplaced anger who is looking for acceptance. Tyra Banks make her film debut and proves supermodels can act.

Higher Learning gets its name in showing college as more than going to class and getting a piece of paper. In fact, I would say the film is almost a satire in showing students interactions with each other, rather than some dry book, as the real education at a university. It is a life-learning process, not a textual one. I think you'll find "Higher Learning" is apropos to the important issues at many universities and even life in general. 8/10
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Cartoonish depiction of racism that takes itself WAY too seriously.
coldwaterpdh4 November 2009
Warning: Spoilers
To be fair, "Higher Learning" came out in the midst of one of the most liberal decades in the history of this country: the 1990's. Sadly, this does not excuse the blatant irresponsibility on display by writer/director John Singleton in his portrayal of both black and white college students. They remind me of characters from a film like "Not Another Teen Movie." Someone like me can watch this with a certain kind of eye and find the entertainment value in it, but to a young person or an impressionable teenager, "Higher Learning" is borderline dangerous propaganda and nothing more.

The viewer is offered an entirely one-sided depiction of the racism that black people endure on a college campus, all the way up to the end. Not one campus security guard is black, they are all white and they are all racist. They even obstruct our hero in the end instead of going after the killer. It is absurd and unrealistic.

The Neo-Nazi's are pathetic, mouth-breathing morons and the Black Power guys are intelligent, transcendent disciples of Huey Newton who, somehow, are still oppressed in 1995.

I wouldn't say this is the WORST movie I've ever seen, but it sure is close. Only to be viewed by those with an IQ of 130 or higher and even then, just for pure comedic value.

The acting is pretty good by all those involved, but the script stinks, the story is over the top ridiculous and the overall message here is not good. Anyone else notice that music in the 90's was better than now, but movies have definitely gotten better!?

2 out of 10, kids.
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Unrealistic portrayal of college life
tex-4213 July 2000
Warning: Spoilers
What shows promise to be a good movie quickly degrades into ridiculous stereotypes that the director claims to be fighting against. Higher Learning takes place at the fictional Columbus University and follows a group of students as they lead their daily lives. However, these people barely seem to have time to go to class. Every possible situation that could happen does, from date rape to racism to experimenting with lesbianism. And of course this all culminates in a neo-Nazi bloodbath. What's wrong? Doesn't sound like your college? Well mine either.

However, Singleton wants us to believe this is what colleges are like, and he does so with an unconvincing script which hops around jumping from plot to plot trying to say everything he wants before the credits roll. This leaves a lot of plot holes and characters coming and going throughout the movie. Overall, not an awful movie, but it could have been a lot better.
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Singleton's Improbable History
pooh-247 March 2008
Based on the personal experiences of director John Singleton's time at the University of Southern California,comes Higher Learning. A film centered on the racial politics that occur at modern day colleges.

There are three main characters to which the film bases its foundation around for its story: Malik Williams, an carefree lowbrow athlete who is an African American male. Kristin Conner, a sheltered soft white girl, and Remy, a unsophisticated unconnected white male. All three are overcome by the sudden realities that college life is not as good as it is advertised as all three go through disappointment by being unprepared (Malik), by being naive (Kristin), and by being unwanted (Remy).

One good thing about the film is that it does show that modern American colleges are just high schools writ large. The colleges are not places to build character , develop potential, or enhance personal advancement, but they are institutions used to gather all sorts of students in a one-size-fits-all atmosphere. It is an experience that usually is built for failure for most students. It would have been good if the film built it story about this travesty rather than racial politics.

But it didn't and that's where the films falls apart. Singleton ,it seems, had a pretty bad experience at Southern California. Through this film he lets it all hang out. There is no need to beat around the bush here. Singleton lets the heroes and the villains of this piece be easily seen.

The black characters in the film are pretty much seen as the heroes here while all the whites in the film are seen as the villains, save for Kristin, who was raped by a fellow white student.

Who can understand the inconsistencies of this film? Black gang members who come to the aid of a white girl after she points out to them who supposedly raped her? The ease that the black gang members have at the university while a bunch of skin heads meet in a dark small dorm planning violence?

The performances of Omar Epps (Malik) and Kristy Swanson (Kristin) are disappointing. They do seem like the third choices for the roles that they played in this movie (Tupac Shakur and Drew Barrymore were supposed to play Malik and Kristin but were unavailable). O'Shea Jackson aka Ice Cube ,Busta Rhymes, and Regina King were all irritating in their respective roles. And Laurence Fishburne was woefully miscast here as the history professor. Only Michael Rappaport did well in this film and he did considering that his character ,of the three main characters, changed the most in the film.

John Singleton wanted to take on the matter of race and inequality in American college life with this film. And he did so quite badly. It was sort like killing a fly with a shotgun. Life is far more complex than it seems and people are alike all over and he should know this. Higher Learning is proof that he did not understand this at all. Seeing the film ,then and now, would only confuse, disappoint and enrage the same public he would wish to speak to. Not to mention it would not entertain them in the slightest.
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The horrors of going to college
tex-4228 March 2000
Overly dramatic movie takes every possible prejudice and stereotype, multiplies it by 100, and sends it to college. The movie follows a group of students at Columbus University as they adjust to college life with apparently physcotic results. This is the type of movie that makes you never want to go to college for fear of being raped, turned into a lesbian, be attacked by Neo-Nazis, or an assortment of other things that mostly do not happen, but are played out to the extreme here. Movie wastes a decent cast with played out cliches and poor scripting. The ending is completely predictable, and leaves the viewer feeling like college is not a fun place to be. Watchable, but just remember that 95% of the things that go on in the movie do not represent most campuses in the United States.
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So Shallow My Ankles Didn't Even Get Wet
Kashmirgrey7 August 2008
"Higher Learning" is a film only a superficial hippie-wanna-be could love. It's underlying theme is nauseatingly racist in nature all the while attempting to pass itself off as a film promoting tolerance of diversity. Bahhh! What an insult to the viewer's intelligence.

John Singleton has a blatantly obvious axe to grind with white folks. It is unfortunate that he utilizes cinema to perpetuate his agenda to turn people against one another in an effort to sell his lousy flicks.

To gripe about this film any further would be to pay undue homage to it and therefore I will end this with two words of advice... "steer clear"!
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This College is Like the First Day on the Prison Yard.
chas4373 May 2021
The premise of this "film" was so absurd, we laughed about it 25 years ago. Sadly, America has become like this film. Who would've believed it.

That's how far teh intellectual dialogue in America has devolved. Mindless Wokeness, identity politics, radical professors teaching radical ideas. The truth doesn't matter anymore, merit no longer matters. Everyone is the sum of their racial, gender identity.

History will look back at this time as collective delusion and insanity.
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Underrated! Finally an intelligent film about racism
FlorisV27 June 2003
John Singleton's finest film, before blockbuster wannabees like the Shaft remake, this is a thought-provoking movie with overall great acting and superb balance between the stories 3 main characters, each with identifiable youngster problems.

What I liked about it most is that it also covers the problem of selfpity among young blacks, a problem mostly ignored by the media and other films who mostly focus on social-economical problems and racism by whites. This movie shows that blacks can be equally ignorant and racist.

The masterful thing about this film is that it deals with so many topics without getting shallow. It's not just about racism, but about how hard it can be to adopt to a new world (college), date rape, discovering sexuality and isolation. Omar Epps, Michael Rapaport and Kristy Swanson each deliver fine performances, and the supporting cast is equally interesting with Jennifer Connelly as a lez (yay) and with Ice Cube and Busta Rhymes as college bums causing little riots.

The only negative is the caricature of a professor by Laurence Fishburne ("Peppermint?"). Surely, plenty of professors are nutty. But they're not as flat. The skinheads are also a bit of a caricature, but I guess they are like that too in real life.

Overall a great underrated piece of filmwork, if you liked American History X you'll love this one.

8,5 out of 10
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Forces you to form your own opinions
beeohbeecrow21 September 2002
I have read a lot of reviews for this movie where people accuse the film of promoting stereotypes, and that it portrays whites in a negative light. I really think that those who wrote those reviews missed the point.

1) There ARE stereotypes in this movie. It's intentional. Not every white character in this movie is portrayed as a skinhead, as some reviewers may have lead you to believe. Not every black character in this movie is portrayed as a victim either. In order for people to overcome racial stereotypes, we have to at least take a good look at what other races see when they look at us, and this movie does a good job of that. There are also characters (both black and white) who try to persuade Omar Epps' character to not use his race as an excuse to "play the victim," so I really don't see this movie as "one sided".

2) The rape scene, where some reviewers complain that Kristy Swanson's character gave consent, wasn't supposed to be a clear cut, "awful drunk bad-guy" rape. In order for people to understand the causes and effects of date rape, we need to take a closer look at where the line is between right and wrong, and this movie does a good job of asking the viewer where that line is.

There are other situations where characters choose violence and revenge rather than thinking of a better solution. But - some of these situations seem justified, and others do not. Once again, you as the viewer have to decide if what you're seeing is right or wrong.

I must admit that I was troubled by the portrayal of the campus security as being overly suspicious of blacks, and overly sympathetic towards whites. But this movie is meant to ask questions; not suggest that ALL white security guards are this way. The fact that I am troubled by this portrayal means that I was forced to think about what suspicions are justified, and which are not. This movie is full of things that make you take a stand one way or another. It's not meant to make you feel comfortable, or to decide for you...

If you like movies that overtly tell you what you're supposed to think, you may misinterpret this movie. But if you want to see thought-provoking film that will make you ask yourself a lot of questions on where you stand, I recommend seeing this film. Great performances by Epps, Swanson, and Michael Rappaport. I was even pleasantly surprised by Tyra Banks performance. 8 out of 10 stars.
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This Movie Was Horrible And Not Too Realistic
leighabc12313 June 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers Ahead!!!

This movie was another one of John Singleton's horrible pseudorealistic movies. Laurence Fishburn was a mean college professor. It was funny when Regina King called Ice Cube a super super super senior. Omar Epps just had terrible luck as a college student. If he was a track star, then he should have received a full scholarship instead of being put out of class for not paying his tuition by Laurence Fishburn. One stupid plot was the girl who became a lesbian after she was raped! I was so mad that they killed Tyra Banks in this movie. That was one of Tyra's best roles ever!
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Bad like Boston Public and Saved by the Bell are bad
bu_train23 February 2003
I thought this movie was ridiculous. I really think this is to college what Boston Public and Saved by the Bell are to high school--that is, anyone who sees this before they get to college thinks college is actually like this.

Now, I understand that Singleton wanted to turn this movie into a microcosm of colleges in general, but for all this stuff to happen at one school in one week I find a hard pill to swallow. Some of the stuff does happen on a disturbingly regular basis (ie, drunken rapes), but the rest of it is so rare that putting it in the movie is useless, other than to provide filler.

Sorry to all you high schoolers who see this movie, but college is NOTHING LIKE THIS.
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not mortified, just annoyed
oslane20 May 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I haven't read a single IMDb comment for this movie that mentions how the Jewish character in this movie jumped up and down like a little baby as a gun is pointed in his face by a racist skinhead while the movie's lead black character looked in sternness down the barrel of a gun.

I don't know how anyone could perceive this as a balanced account of university life. I agree universities are not bastions of tolerance like they are supposed to be and the title would be fitting if Singleton didn't make his characters such broad caricatures.

On the surface he tries to portray Ice Cube's character as a bad guy, provoking Remy to become a racist skinhead. But who graduates at the end in the movie's redeeming epilogue? It seems Singleton points at white as either unable to empathize (I didn't say sympathize!) with his fellow black student OR only able to take the path of a racist skinhead. Many people who have been bullied by people of another race do not turn to extreme bigotry.

Nor do women who have been raped immediately turn to lesbianism, which is portrayed more as a cult than a lifestyle. Quite honestly what was the point?
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Worst movie ever
hast-29 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This may have been the worst movie I've ever seen. You have a normal white kid who is picked on one time by black kids, and he becomes a skin head!!! Then you have a girl who has one problem with a guy so becomes a lesbian! Then a black kid who feels ignored so he joins the black panthers!!! This is a joke of a film. Never watch it. Never ever watch it. I want my two hours back! I want my life back! It was just so awful. I am so mad I watched it. It was so bad. It was such a joke, and a waste of time. I would never want anyone to see it ever in a million years. I would not watch that black propaganda again if I was held at gunpoint!
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Not the greatest acting here.
deloudelouvain10 February 2019
Well the least you could say is that I wasn't too impressed by this movie. I really thought it would be better considering the ratings it got. The overall message is that racism is bad and that everybody is equal whatever your skin color or sexual preference is. That's the good part of Higher Learning. But there are alot of things that made this movie just average or even below average. First of all there is the acting, it isn't that great to be honest. Omar Epps is overacting, in some scenes it's just ridiculous to watch. Busta Rhymes should stick to music, he's good at that. Laurence Fishburne, normally an actor I like, and his fake African accent is just annoying to watch. Ice Cube plays the roles he always plays, the angry black man, he's not bad but I just prefer his music. The end credits were the best part of the movie where we finally hear some Ice Cube, as the rest of the music in this movie really sucks. It's bad R&B from the nineties, with some lame love songs, the kind of bad music we had to endure in the nineties. So all in all, besides the message and a Ice Cube song there wasn't much good about Higher Learning.
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Cookie-cutter political correctness
brendanrau22 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Despite, or perhaps in part because of the clever use of music to underscore the motivations and ideologies of each of the major characters, stereotypes are in, and verisimilitude and characterization are out in this not-too-subtle cinematic screed.

One gets the sense that John Singleton was dabbling in post-structuralist literary theory because it was the flavor of the day, and "Higher Learning" was the tendentious result. The low point of the movie is the "peace" rally, in which the symbols of the 1960s "free love" movement are appropriated for what much more closely resembles a "Take Back The Night" rally with live, stridently identity-conscious musical acts in tow. Perhaps in his prim revisionism the director was trying to assert that identity politics is the new Vietnam? Ooh, how Adrienne Rich of him—and Remy's firing into the crowd is a nice touch, if you're into Rich's sort of political posturing.

I wish I could give this movie negative stars. I can recommend it only to those interested in the 1990s as history, a time when radical feminists brought the academic trinity of race, class, and gender to popular culture and declared man-hating "a viable and honorable POLITICAL option". Where's Camille Paglia when you need her?
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Singleton gathers every stereotypes
SnoopyStyle3 December 2013
Director John Singleton is trying to cram every stereotype into this portrait of an American college. Sure the student body can be divided along racial lines and racial tensions. And sure there are rapes in colleges. And hard drinking parties ... And racist security ... And lesbian experimentation. All he needs is some gay guys and he's all set.

Kristy Swanson plays the co-ed who falls into some hard partying and gets raped. Although I like her, she's not a versatile actress. If I have any problems, it's Busta Rhymes. He is the biggest ridiculous stereotype in this movie. Singleton is not doing him or himself any favors. The battle between Ice Cube and Michael Rapaport does drive the story in an interesting way. But again, Singleton takes it into the most sensationalized way. This is not a subtle movie. The characters are mostly 2-dimensional. Tyra Banks makes an impassioned plea, but even that seems 2-dimensional. I guess if there are enough 2-d, Singleton hopes it adds up to 3-d.
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An interesting curio of America in the '90s right after the LA Riots.
Nick Zbu20 December 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Having over fifteen years of space away from this film, watching it again makes me realize how utterly disconnected from reality this film is. The characters are stereotypes, the college campus is nothing like reality, and the whole affair screams 'Do the Right Thing' but without any real understanding about what that really entails. Spike Lee's film had a lot of valid points and understood the nature of racism and portrayed it brilliantly. This film just takes pleasure in reducing everybody to stereotypes, tossing in an education spiel that would make Bill Cosby roll his eyes, and basically just waste the audience's time and money.

But it does have value. The movie attempts to portray America as a land seething with anxiety and bitterness over social norms breaking and bursting. But it's a childish movie in that it wants to be revolutionary without really knowing what it's trying to do. Why does rape equal becoming a lesbian? How does being dismissed by a bunch of black men immediately follow into racism? Huh? What is going on in this movie? And we'll never know. Higher Learning is a product of the '90s. If anything, it shows how we cannot judge history while we are living it. It's a bad clone of Do The Right Thing and is ultimately pointless and meaningless. If anything, it serves as a very good warning about moralizing in cinema: you better be damn sure you make something that, even if proved wrong, proves a point. If not, you're just making Sid Davis films with better stock.
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Shrewd depiction of an urban campus
Mr-Fusion23 May 2019
Super frustrating movie with a good cast and director's-chair talent, "Higher Learning" isn't out to change minds as much as it seeks to induce gasps and fits of anger. Naturally, I'm speaking for myself here, but so much goes down on this uniquely nightmarish PC college campus that we're not given time to connect the dots; the blood is bad just because; the racial tensions exist just because. Sure, it's sad to see what happens to these characters, but I couldn't help but feel manipulated.
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Ouch, this is bad- Spoilers (that is if this movie can be spoiled)
Gauchoglen28 October 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Singleton has some serious issues he has to come to grips with. I get the feeling that he thinks he is pretty smart; however, this movie is almost comically transparent and self righteous. In addition, there are a bunch of "might-makes-right" messages like when our local Nazi jerks get beat up. I mean, who in their right mind is going to root for a bunch of Nazi jerks? However, he way Singleton portrays the "fight" is downright silly and seems to be designed to show us more the superior fighting qualities of the black protagonists than anything else. There is another "bad guy" (in reality a drunken frat boy) who rapes one of the movie's protagonists. In this instance, I think that Singleton actually does a nice job portraying what is probably an all too common situation when the woman involved asks the frat boy to use a condom and he either does not have one or does not want to use one. In any event, he does not accede to her demands that he stop and he proceeds to have intercourse despite her pleas. I think that this type of rape is all too common and in fact many uniformed people refuse to accept the fact that it is even a rape. Well, no means no, this is a rape, which probably occurs a lot in Universities across the country.

Having established the rape, how does Singleton deal with it? When the frat boy tries to call the woman, her roommate refuses to put the victim on the phone, at which point the frat boy calls the roommate a "black bitch." The aggrieved roommate appears to appeal to a counsel of Ice Cube, et al, who then proceed to physically humiliate and abuse the frat boy into repeated and prolonged "apologies" to roommate for his racist remarks; however the (apparently in Singleton's mind) lesser crime of rape is not mentioned. Again, no one really should feel sorry for the frat boy; however, Singleton seems to be sending a dual message that a racist comment is a greater offense then rape and in any event violence is justified against jerks.

What is so ultimately so disappointing is that this movie could have truly been about something important but Singleton, while no doubt a talented director, does not appear to have the maturity or depth to pull of something of this magnitude.
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Well-acted episodic generic slice of big-city college
billyfish24 December 2009
Hard to believe the extremes of the reviews of this film. It's either genius or crap. I found it somewhere in between, and I have to say I enjoyed it, owing mostly to Omar Epps. I believe he's one of the best actors in America right now, and his performance in this movie really made it watchable as far as I'm concerned. Many of the characters were not developed well, and were two-dimensional at best. Rappaport's character, and in fact all the white supremacists, were mere cut-outs and actually painful to watch. I didn't get the good guy/bad guy (name your race -- I think it depends on who's reviewing) theme at all. I think Epps was the protagonist and naturally he was shown in a better light than most of the other characters, black or white. There was some intelligent dialog and some inane dialog. However, it was overall an interesting film and I'm glad I saw it. Not perfect by any means, and with its share of clichés, but a good film nonetheless.
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Nonsense. Total, utter nonsense
imrit8 November 1998
This film is nonsense. i don't mean mild nonsense, or almost nonsense, or indeed just poor. Let's do a quick plot summary. Racists of both varieties have race war. Fantastic "liberal" coalition stand as symbols of good (lesbians, hippies etc) The only thing this film is good for is comedy. You haven't laughed until you've seen immensely stupid Nazis yell things like "Do it, do it for the white race!". Great stuff. A prime candidate for people who watch films for stupidity.
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This is an emotional gem
kevin_robbins29 January 2022
Higher Learning (1995) is a movie in my DVD collection that I recently rewatched on Tubi. The storyline takes place at Columbus College that has a strong Los Angeles presence but also attendees from all over the country. This movie depicts how division can be formed within people and races and when situations come to a head and explode.

This movie is directed by John Singleton (Boyz N The Hood) and stars Ice Cube (Boyz N The Hood), Omar Epps (Juice), Kristy Swanson (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Michael Rapaport (True Romance), Jennifer Connelly (Requiem for a Dream), Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix), Regina King (The Harder They Fall), Tyra Banks (Halloween: Resurrection) and Busta Rhymes (Halloween: Resurrection).

The cast for this movie is outstanding and perfectly selected. Every performance captures the perfect feel and perspective of the character. The writing was very good and the dialogue and depth of the conversations were excellent. The various circumstances that led to climatic conclusion was a rollercoaster that entire film you know is coming and still catches you off guard. This is an emotional gem.

Overall this is a magnificent movie with great characters and a unique and well told storyline. This movie is an easy 10/10 must see.
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The most racist and most hate-promoting film since "Birth of a Nation"
Skywalker0212 July 2001
Yes, Birth of a Nation is mentioned in this review because both John Singleton and D.W. Griffith have a lot in common. They are both gifted film makers, who have evil politics. And he turns back the clock 99 years with the use "Old Testament" character representation in role reversal. These films have so much in common, I'm could believe that Higher Learning was formally titled "Birth of a Nation 2 You Too"

A breakdown of this plot is about three college students Malik (Omar Epps) Kristen (Kristy Swanson) and Remy (Micheal Rapaport)who come to college and get caught up in some galvanized cases of racial prejudice.

Every last character in this film is nothing more but a human stereo-type.

Malik Williams, beyond any possibility of deviation, is the good guy

Remy, who didn't even get a last name given to his character, is the out-numbered white kid from, brace yourself, a small country hick town in Idaho. Long story/short, his bullied treatment from Ice Cube and his Ghetto friends manipulate him to become a Nazi skinhead.

Kristen Conner is the helpless , confused ,ignorant , sympathetic , white girl.

If these character descriptions seem one-dimensional and flat, then I gave them too much depth.

Every negative/Angelo stereo type is depicted in this film. You have your date-raping, beer drinking frat boys, your Rodney King type ,night-stick clubbing ,campus security guards, your ignorant bystanders and lets not forget those obligatory Neo-Nazi Skinheads, who's sentences can't be finished without uttering "White Power!"

The members of the protagonist race, are educated, cultured, and heroicly good, without the slightest bit of ill will. One example is when the date-raping frat-boy calls Kristens' roommate a "black bitch" and he's gently convined to apologize by Ice Cube and his flock.

If that isn't enough ,Singleton tips the scales even deeper by executing a fight scene where 105 lb rapper Busta Rymes ,single handedly fights off two skin-heads while 6'4, 350lbs skin-head , played by former body-builder Andrew Bryniarski is beat to a pulp by a guy half his size.

Just when you think the odds can't get any more leveraged, the Skinheads strike back ,murdering the only passive individual to the end, and when Malick rushes to revenge this death, he is ambushed by (you guessed it) campus security in traditional Rodney King style.

The only solice that Singleton gives to the villainous race in this film is dream sequence ,love scene between Swanson and Jennifer Connelly, which Singleton more then likely put in to salivate at.

This film is as biased and one-sided as a game of see-saw between Marlin Brando and Calista Flockheart.

The closing of this film was a final conversation between the noble hero, Malik and some generic and ignorant member of the antagonistic race (who miraculously seemed to avoid those persuasive recruitments by the Nazi Skinheads) saying there's no hope for the races to get along I guess. It almost seems as if Singleton wants every Angelo who sees this film to drop down to their knees, crying: "God, why did you make me White?, Why?"

I recall seeing Lawrence Fishbure bring a refreshing presence to this film. "Peppermint?" His first line is "Welcome to the Real World" I was then reminded of his great presence in "The Matrix", and then it was all clear. Matrix is reality and Higher Learning is a far as you can get from reality as possible, because all issues in this film that relate to college life make you actually believe in things like jumping 100 ft between buildings and dodging bullets from agent Smith.

The very final moment of the film is the word "UNLEARN". Singleton finally said the right thing, because unlearning the last 2 hours of your life is exactly what one should do after seeing "Higher Learning"

I think I'll side with Delro Lindo, from "Get Shorty" in saying:

"I've seen better film on teeth."

Singleton can make no excuses for this ungodly concoction of smite, because he's proven that he can make a film that is true to life, heart-felt, moving, informative, well acted, inspiring and humanly meaningful (Boyz in the Hood).

Higher Learning should have it's own section in the video store: Sociological Science Fiction.

Before anyone considers renting this, overrated, over-hyped, overly racist propaganda (with Jim Camerons' "True Lies" running a close 2nd) let me suggest a much more significant alternative.

The underrated, under seen "American History X"

I'll say it three times so you wont forget: American History X American History X American History X
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