Higher Learning


Mixed or average reviews - based on 20 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 20
  2. Negative: 1 out of 20

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Critic Reviews

  1. 80
    Higher Learning is John Singleton's interracial state of today's campuses version of School Daze minus the musical numbers. Surprisingly, it's just as much a gang movie if not more than Boyz 'n the Hood.
  2. 75
    Singleton's film is interesting for a lot of reasons, but especially because he stands outside this campus system and looks at it with a detached eye.
  3. 75
    Higher Learning is seriously intended and seriously flawed. Singleton tends to shout his objectives. But in an era of cop-out escapism, it is gratifying to find a filmmaker who is spoiling to be heard.
  4. Still, Singleton's willingness to take risks makes this a worthy, thoughtful film. Especially noteworthy: His sensitive handling of a love triangle between Kristen and her boyfriend and Kristen and another woman.
  5. The film treats realistic subjects in a stylized way, putting its main energy into exploring ideas rather than building emotional power. [13 Jan 1995, p.B]
  6. Singleton gets points for exposing the hypocrisy of "politically correct" institutions, but stilted dialogue and cardboard characterizations undermine the message.
  7. 63
    When this movie is quiet and introspective, it speaks with a clear voice. That insight gets muddled, however, the more forceful Singleton becomes.
  8. Higher Learning culminates in facile violence instead of the assurance that this film maker, in trying to explain forces that oppress his characters, has really done his homework.
  9. Despite a weakness for trying to tie things up with melodramatic violence, Singleton remains a fluid filmmaker who works well with actors. He may not be there yet, but he is on the road.
  10. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    These aren't really characters; they are points on a rigidly conceived political spectrum. Singleton has made all the right political moves given his complicated circumstances, but he hasn't really made a movie of them.
  11. Aiming at a microcosm of American life comparable in some ways to Do the Right Thing, Singleton can't quite justify or explicate his parting message ("unlearn"), but his passion is exemplary.
  12. 50
    For every persuasive insight John Singleton brings to Higher Learning, his thoughtful but flawed movie about multiculturalism and racism, he throws in something equally disappointing.
  13. Higher Learning starts out as a liberal message movie, but it turns into a demagogic rabble-rouser, a shrewdly incendiary exploitation of these wayward days of rage.
  14. Chicago Tribune
    Reviewed by: Gene Siskel
    John Singleton stumbles badly with a terribly awkward but well-intentioned drama about political correctness and race at a contemporary university. [13 Jan 1995, p.B]
  15. The Globe and Mail (Toronto)
    Reviewed by: Rick Groen
    Like an over-ambitious freshman with a term paper, Singleton raises every issue and illuminates none. And, again, this film is better when the combative heat rises, particularly when the long-telegraphed confrontation between Malik and the neo-Nazi finally comes to a (skin)head. [13 Jan 1995, p.C3]
  16. USA Today
    Reviewed by: Susan Wloszczyna
    Higher Learning: John Singleton's ambitious potpourri of on-campus tensions - date rape, black power, white supremacy - all too quickly lapses into pandering preachiness. [17 Feb 1995, p.4D]
  17. 40
    Higher Learning is a disappointment. What might have been director Singleton's (Boyz N the Hood, Poetic Justice) most ambitious and potentially intriguing work, wound up as his most shallow and scattershot.
  18. Reviewed by: Emma Cochrane
    Good intentions, but dull and predictable.
  19. Wall Street Journal
    Reviewed by: Amy Gamerman
    Higher Learning put me in mind of a long lecture by a well-meaning but dull professor. What he has to say may be worthwhile, but it's delivered with plodding predictability. [12 Jan 1995, p.A12]
  20. Higher Learning says nothing new or challenging and is too naive to inspire controversy.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 7 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 1
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 1
  3. Negative: 0 out of 1
  1. Feb 24, 2013
    Higher Learning is a very bold film, that shows the paths of 3 college freshman and how they develop socially during their first semester inHigher Learning is a very bold film, that shows the paths of 3 college freshman and how they develop socially during their first semester in college. They start out as a group of naive kids, who don't even understand themselves, and develop into different persona's that fit the group of friends they choose to fall in with. It's really interesting to see how 3 people, who are all in the same boat, wind up on such different paths, simply as a result of who they choose to spend their time with. I can't really say much more, but eventually their paths will cross with some very interesting results! Full Review »