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School Daze (1988)

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



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Dap (as Larry Fishburne)
Jane Toussaint (as Tisha Campbell)
Kyme ...
Ellen Holly ...
Coach Odom
James Bond III ...
Booker T. (as Eric A. Payne)
Anthony Thompkins ...
Doo-Doo Breath


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


Comedy | Drama | Musical


R | See all certifications »




Release Date:

12 February 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Aulas turbulentas  »

Filming Locations:



Box Office


$6,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

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

Gross USA:

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?


Vanessa Williams was originally considered for the role of Jane Toussaint. However, Spike Lee was impressed by Tisha Campbell's singing performance in Little Shop of Horrors (1986), so she got the part. See more »


When the Gamma Rays are singing I Don't Want to Be Alone Tonight, towards the end of the song, the audio and picture don't add up. The audio is slightly ahead. See more »


Wanna Be's: You're just a jig-a-boo, tryin' to find somethin' to do!
See more »


Referenced in Inside the Actors Studio: Episode #7.6 (2000) See more »


Kick Out the Tigers
Music and Lyrics by Consuela Lee Morehead
SpringTree Music Company (BMI)
See more »

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User Reviews

Lee's sophomore effort is far from great, but it's a fine effort nonetheless
12 July 2008 | by See all my reviews

School Daze isn't something that is exclusive to those who went to all-black colleges, despite what some other commenters have said on IMDb. Coming from an average state school, there's still nothing *big* in the movie that comes from specifically being all-black, as there are many things like fraternities/sororities, male and female camaraderie, sex, fashion, insults, sports and rituals in general that are common to any college experience. Spike Lee captures that, when he's at his best here, very well. If you *did* go to an all-black college ala Lee's alma mater Moorehouse, then I'm sure it will have more relevance. But in general, Lee's made a solid, technically wild college comedy/musical/drama, with some major missteps.

There are some messages thrown about in School Daze, mostly around sexism, not so much racism (there's barely a white person to be seen in the film so it's not really an issue to deal with per-say), but they're all used in relativity with the story and characters, which is good. We're given Mission college, an all-black college down south, where classes are pretty much moot and everything revolves around cliques of various sorts: the Greek frat, which Half-Pint (Spike Lee) is trying to join, and his cousin Dap (Fishburne) who definitely is not and is defiant against a lot of things on campus, which nearly get him expelled. There are also the jigaboo's and the wannabes, two sets of girls on campus who are certainly opposed (as we see, brilliantly, in one of the better musical numbers).

While Lee's plot isn't always connected together, there's so much that works when he keeps the dialog moving along. He has a great sense of the characters, the BS that binds guys together and how the rhythm of a conversation with these 18-22 year olds goes, and about the ambivalence between the opposing sexes, leading up to the dramatic climax. Even most of the actors, close to all of them their first time in a Lee joint (Esposito, Davis, Bill Nunn), are terrific when given the chance showing off how absurd and, in retrospect in life, abstract all of this becomes. What keeps it down from being a lot better- and, sadly, what makes it look a lot more like an exercise in style (which, granted, was Lee's first movie with a budget above 100 grand and for a studio)- are the padded musical performances, and specifically those that don't contribute anything to the story. The first sequence is dynamite as the actresses all perform in an energetic performance about the differences between the sororities. After that, it's more or less (more for the one scene with the singer intercut with the sex) just filler that is shot well but empty.

Nevertheless, School Daze shows a filmmaker ready and hungry behind the lens to try and do things and show us bits and pieces of life that haven't been much in American movies, and at best it's riveting and entertaining. For this it's commendable, but it's also a stepping stone for Do the Right Thing. 7.5/10

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