ReelTalk Movie Reviews  

New Reviews
Jurassic World Domini...
Jazz Fest: A New Orle...
Chip 'n Dale: Rescue ...
more movies...
New Features
Poet Laureate of the Movies
Happy Birthday, Mel Brooks
Score Season #71
more features...
ReelTalk Home Page
Contact Us
Advertise on ReelTalk

Listen to Movie Addict Headquarters on internet talk radio Add to iTunes

Buy a copy of Confessions of a Movie Addict

Main Page Movies Features Log In/Manage

Rate This Movie
 Above AverageAbove AverageAbove AverageAbove Average
 Below AverageBelow Average
Rated 3.03 stars
by 777 people

ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Predictable but Sturdy
by Jeffrey Chen

Nothing will likely surprise you about The Great Debaters, which features a sports movie plot as applied to the trials of a college debating team. The main concept point here is that it's an all-black team from Wiley College that rises to prominence when it eventually takes on an Ivy League contender.

Pairing this drama genre with a black history-related story makes the movie not unlike Pride earlier in the year, but The Great Debaters benefits from having more strong performances than just its central one of the coach (in this case, Denzel Washington as Mel Tolson). Particularly, Nate Parker and Denzel Whitaker (whose involvement must've been cosmically influenced, given that the movie also stars Washington and Forest Whitaker, neither of whom he's related to) both give appealing, charismatic turns as members of the squad. Unlike Pride's brute force approach to seeking racial equality, The Great Debaters argues that strength of mind and character will be the best tools to prepare for the struggle -- an idea much more appealing to general inspiration-seeking audiences.

This is Washington's second directorial effort, and he's showing a tendency to favor middlebrow drama with conflicted characters as presented in a classy, glossy package. It's not daring, but it's earnest. As an actor-director, he also focuses on performances, and the sum of these elements makes The Great Debaters a predictable but sturdy genre offering. (Capsule review)

(Released by The Weinstein Company and rated "PG-13" by the MPAA.)

Review also posted at

© 2024 - ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Website designed by Dot Pitch Studios, LLC