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Higher Learning (1995)

Omar Epps , Kristy Swanson , John Singleton  |  R |  DVD
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (104 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Omar Epps, Kristy Swanson, Michael Rapaport, Jennifer Connelly, Ice Cube
  • Directors: John Singleton
  • Writers: John Singleton
  • Producers: John Singleton, Dwight Williams, Paul Hall
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English, French, Spanish
  • Subtitles: Chinese, English, French, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Portuguese, Spanish
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: July 3, 2001
  • Run Time: 127 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (104 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005JD5J
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33,907 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Higher Learning" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Kristy Swanson, Omar Epps and Michael Rapaport star as first-term freshmen who get a crash course in diversity, identity and sexuality in writer/director John Singleton's bold look at contemporary college life. Also starring Laurence Fishburne, Ice Cube, Busta Rhymes, Jennifer Connelly and Tyra Banks.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent insight into college life July 2, 2002
Format:VHS Tape
'Higher Learning' is one of those rare college movies that actually has a lot to say and doesn't come across as pompous, schmaltzy or boring. It focuses on several students from different backgrounds who have all come to Columbus university with different expectations of what uni life will be like. First of all there's Epps, a scholar who has to use his spare time on the track to fund his tuition fees and who gradually finds himself involved in a race war on campus. There's also Swanson as a pretty white girl who, after being date raped, finds herself palling up with Connelly, the college feminist and a lesbian. However, perhaps the most powerful performance of all comes from Rapaport as a lonely kid who finds himself falling in with some neo-Nazis.
The emphasis here seems to be on the conflict between wanting to be your own person but still craving conformity and acceptance from others. The racial friction is handled with a sensitivity and intelligence which unfortunately seems abnormal in many films, not just teen ones. It's also a mercy that such stunning actors were given the roles, with both Epps and Rappoport bringing real sympathy to their roles. This is some feat considering Rappoport becomes a neo-Nazi towards the end. The fact that the director shows such sensitivity to such obnoxious characters speaks volumes of the quality of the movie.
If there's any quibbles it's over the stereotyping of Connelly's role, as it comes over that her lesbianity must breed a hatred towards men. This is something that Connelly should not be given, as she is an incredible actress in her own right. Apart from that though, this really is a very good film indeed that will really make you care for its characters, especially because even their most heinous actions are shown to have a reason. This is the thinking teen movie, and actually quite unnerving too.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A great premise...but only an ok film April 25, 2005
Higher Learning had the potential to be a really great movie portraying college life, identity crisis, and social conflict during one's freshman year at a university. Director John Singleton assembled a talented cast, including Laurence Fishburne, Omar Epps, Kristi Swanson, Jennifer Connelly, Ice Cube, Tyra Banks and Michael Rappaport. Unfortunately, Higher Learning does not live up to its potential.

Why doesn't Higher Learning live it up to its promise? Because John Singleton couldn't decide on what kind of movie he wanted to make. The first hour of Higher Learning is the movie's strong point. Here we watch students arrive for their first day on campus, move in, decorate their walls, and adjust to life away from home. Anyone who has ever lived in a dormitory can relate to this experience. It is also during the first hour where Singleton brings up issues relating to racial conflict, sexual assault, money problems, alienation, and the struggles of balancing school work with a job and social life - all issues that anyone attending a college or university must contend with.

However, Singleton loses focuses in the second half of the film. What began as a fairly decent social drama quickly descends into an adrenaline-pumping action film/thriller. While the film remains engaging throughout the second half, you can't help but feel that Higher Learning is essentially two different movies.

Here is what would have made higher learning a top notch film. First, add an extra hour of movie time. A truly insightful drama regarding the complexities of college life needs to be three hours in length. Second, scrap the whole Malik vs. Remy subplot and instead focus on the character development of each man and each's adjustment to university life.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars When Singleton was king December 2, 2008
Format:UMD for PSP
Higher Learning came and went in theaters due to its nature and content. Movies that focus on issues of race will always get mixed reviews. So the masses either slept on it or allowed WASP-owned publications like Jive...oops I meant Vibe ragazine and countless other ragazines to persuade their opinions. So it fell on deaf ears and John Singleton was forced to make MTV-style fodder like 2 Fast 2 Furious, Baby Boy and Illegal Tender. Had this movie been accepted with all its flaws, I believe that Singleton would have still made movies with substance.

Higher Learning is centered around 3 people: Kristen(Kristy Swanson), Malik Williams(Omar Epps) and Remy(Michael Rapaport). Kristen has trouble fitting in and after getting raped she befriends an female activist(played by Jennifer Connelly) and joins her movement. Malik Williams is a track star that has to deal with a stern professor named Maurice Phipps(Laurence Fishburne) and a track coach that has no time for tardiness from Malik. He has problems in class as well as problems on the track and he befriends Fudge(Ice Cube) as well as an attractive female track runner named Deja(Tyra Banks). Remy is from Idaho and has problems adjusting to college life. He ends up making friends with skinheads whose wrongheaded advice and racial bias change him for the worst.

Higher Learning has its flaws: the pacing is meandering, Scott's(the leader of the skinheads in this movie) goons are unconvincing and Busta Rhymes is so out of place in this movie that you unintentionally laugh at him when he is on screen. Omar Epps does a good job as the well-intentioned but somewhat naive Malik. Michael Rapaport does as well as the confused Remy. Fudge is probably Ice Cube's best performance on screen.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
DVD in French
Published 9 days ago by teamballinger
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great movie
Published 1 month ago by Jonathan
5.0 out of 5 stars An artful examination of the culture that exists for some on...
I'm amazed at how many White Americans refused to believe that these might actually be the experiences of African-Americans and others on college campuses all across this country. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Marcus E. Sharpe
4.0 out of 5 stars Not sure what the moral of the movie was but there were lots of funny
Classic movie about racists white people in college lol. Not sure what the moral of the movie was but there were lots of funny moments
Published 2 months ago by Champ
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 2 months ago by MICHAEL
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good movie.
Published 3 months ago by Twanda Foster
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Movie
The movie brings to life how racism creates an unstable learning environment. If you are higher learned please watch this movie.
Published 8 months ago by Loving Girl
4.0 out of 5 stars Great movie
This was a great movie should of one oscar but when the skins fight the panthers its a little unrealistic.
Published 8 months ago by cameron
5.0 out of 5 stars classic
A classic movie about real life events. I ran track so this move was a plus for me also I love Omar Epps
Published 14 months ago by Christal
1.0 out of 5 stars What DVD?
I ordered the DVD but all that arrived was an empty case. I want a replacement sent ASAP as I wasted good money on this title.
Published 16 months ago by David B Wissink
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