Set in Mission College, a black university, School Daze follows a number of characters through their relationships and friendships during the first few weeks of term.
This is basically your bog standard tale about shallow, College-going teens and the petty problems they face, with a bit of Spike Lee grandstanding thrown in about civil rights and apartheid. Billed as a musical comedy, it sporadic musical numbers are fairly forgettable, with choreography better than the songs. Overall there’s an impression of a confused film which struggles to find its feet.
School Daze has surprisingly little in the way of music and comedy. Instead it feels like a fairly bland drama. The problems of these characters include petty squabbles, the kind of meaningless semantic disagreements symptomatic of student politics, and freshman Half Pint’s (Spike Lee) mission to join a fraternity. A lot of this film is comprised frat rituals which get incredibly repetitive, failing to be an entertaining as they think they are.
The student politics rather accurately feels drowned out by the weight of its own self importance as the film drags on too long, with scenes that go nowhere and stories too short to warrant its running length. There are nowhere near enough ideas of substance for a two hour film
It gets strong performances, particularly from Lawrence Fishburne (billed as Larry) and from Lee himself. We also get to see Fishburne and Samuel L Jackson square up on screen for a few seconds. It’s a good thing they don’t fight, because they’d probably destroy the planet.
Badasses aside, this is just another teen movie with the addition of a few Lee hallmarks that aren’t enough to save it. If you like frat rituals and student politics, or think the only problem with Footloose was the lack of black people, this may be for you. If not, take your pick from Lee’s superior films.