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Film Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

 

Get on the Bus
Directed by Spike Lee
Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment 10/96 DVD/VHS Feature Film
R - language

Spike Lee's tenth film, Get On the Bus, charts the cross-country odyssey of 15 fictional black men on the way to the Million Man March in Washington, D.C., from South Central Los Angeles. They share an interest in participating in an historical moment for African-American men and yet they are sharply divided on issues pertaining to race, politics, homosexuality, religion, law and order, and parental behavior.

The characters include George (Charles Dutton), the tour organizer; Jeremiah (Ossie Davis), a Christian whose heart has been broken; Gary (Roger Guenveur Smith), a light-skinned cop; Jamal (Gabriel Casseus), a former gang member turned Islam convert; and Xavier (Hill Harper), a film student who's making a documentary of the trip.

A self-centered and emotionally bombastic actor, Flip (Andre Braugher), can't abide the presence of a gay couple (Harry Lennix and Isaiah Washington) on the bus. And there are outsiders who rock the group's bonding — a white bus driver (Richard Belzer), an upscale Republican black businessman (Wendell Pierce), some southern cops, and two black women who feel excluded. A father (Thomas Jefferson Byrd) who has his teenage son (DeAundre Bonds) shackled to him by a 72-hour court order also draws out varied reactions from the group.

The screenplay by Reggie Rock Bythewood vividly conveys the yearning of these African-American men for solidarity. Their spiritual journey toward self-respect, hospitality, and mutual understanding makes Get On the Bus an important film.

 

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Reviews and database copyright 1970 2012
by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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