Director: Spike Lee
Stars: Laurence Fishburne, Giancarlo Esposito, Spike Lee, Tisha Campbell-Martin, Ossie Davis, Bill Nunn, Branford Marsalis, Kadeem Hardison
Lesson Learned: Those popular, hot chicks on campus? They have feelings, too—as do the hardcore militants.

Spike Lee and subtlety have never gone hand-in-hand, a clear disconnect that has alternately powered and hindered the controversial filmmaker's work. School Daze, the Brooklyn-born auteur's second feature, walks a fine line between both effects.

First, the downside: that “Wake up!” climax, a heavy-handed coda that feels all the more forceful twenty-three years later. That overdone ending aside, School Daze, Lee's candid look at the inner workings of an all-black university's Greek life, is also bogged down by unnecessary musical numbers. But even the song-and-dance diversions can't undermine the film's overall impact.

With his trademark harshness toward racial stereotypes and inter-personal relations, Lee posits the fictional Mission College as a hotbed of pent-up rage, concealed insecurities, and social inequalities. In typical Lee fashion, storylines, such as Tisha Campbell-Martin's sorority sister character begrudgingly sleeping with a nerdy frat pledge, aren't resolved—he leaves it up to viewers to decide who's right, who's wrong, and whose prejudices are justified. Well, after you wake the fuck up, of course.