School Daze | Chicago Reader

School Daze

While it lacks the controlled energy of She's Gotta Have It, Spike Lee's second feature (1988) is much more innovative, ambitious, and exciting, tackling class warfare at a mainly black college in Atlanta. Lee takes care not to stack the deck against either the light-skinned, upwardly mobile Wannabees, who belong to fraternities, or the dark-skinned Jigaboos, who feel more racial pride, and the issues dividing them range from the college's investment in South Africa to straight versus nappy hair (the latter highlighted in a gaudy, Bye Bye Birdie-style musical number). Definitely ragged—the musical numbers are variable, and the overall continuity is fairly choppy—but with this film Lee began to create a black cinema of his own. With Laurence Fishburne, Giancarlo Esposito, Tisha Campbell, Kyme, Joe Seneca, Art Evans, Ellen Holly, Ossie Davis, and Lee himself as the frat pledge Half-Pint, literally torn between the two warring factions. R, 114 min.

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