Passing Strange
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In this astounding and explosive documentary, Spike Lee captures the eponymous Broadway musical show written by singer/songwriter Stew. The resulting work unites revelatory theater with superb filmmaking, raising the whole to a dizzyingly plateau of emotional engagement. The story (developed at the Sundance Theatre Lab) concerns the uneasy relationship of a young black man (called simply Youth in the show's credits) with his life. Raised somewhere south of Interstate 10 in Los Angeles, our hero, a would-be songwriter, stews in a sea of conflicted cultural signals. He chafes under his… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"Lee doesn't reinvent the wheel when it comes to filming live theater, but he moves the camera artfully and edits with an energy that matches the music. And he makes good use of close-ups, capturing the sweaty faces of a troupe of remarkable performers."
‑ Noel Murray, AV Club
"The invigorating result, zestily edited by Lee's own inside iron man, Barry Brown, is in every way a knockout."
‑ Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
"It's a joyous production; the music is alive and dynamic, the skits are clever and funny and self-effacing and the show crackles with energy..."
‑ Sean Axmaker,
"A rousing, emotional roller coaster that's a must see not just for fans of rock musicals but those with an eye (and an ear) for something unusual - compellingly so."
‑ Richard Knight, Windy City Times
"Tender, sexy , funny, moving and profound, Passing Strange bears comparison not just to the great works of the American musical theatre but to literary landmarks like James Baldwin's Another Country and (especially) Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man."
‑ Ray Greene, Boxoffice Magazine
"You'll probably have to resist the urge to stand up and cheer with the onscreen audience during the emotional curtain call."
‑ Elizabeth Weitzman, New York Daily News
"Moving, thrilling and new."
‑ A.O. Scott, New York Times
"Interesting that one of the best movies of the year is a filming of a play. That's a sad commentary on Hollywood but sufficient reason to see this uplifting and very witty movie."
‑ Louis Proyect,
"If you passed up the opportunity to catch this Tony-award winning rock musical during its Broadway run, don't make the same mistake with Spike Lee's vibrant film adaptation."
‑ Ethan Alter, Giant Magazine
"There's much to admire, like the energy and Swiss-watch timing of the players, though this remains a photographed play and not a movie."
‑ Harvey S. Karten, Compuserve
"Spike Lee's Passing Strange: The Movie is basically canned musical theater, but this is one Tony-winning Broadway show that's well worth preserving and seeing."
‑ Lou Lumenick, New York Post
"I can't single out a performance. This is a superb ensemble, conveying that joy actors feel when hey know they're good in good material."
‑ Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
"Although more of a stage play than a film this performance has great acting and great music combined with a heart felt message."
‑ Ron Wilkinson, Monsters and Critics
"Passing Strange adds to Spike Lee's visionary resume and his eye for fresh talent."
‑ Clay Cane,
"Film version of a fresh and spunky Broadway musical about a young black man's quest for self-understanding and creative expression."
‑ Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice
More reviews for Passing Strange on Rotten Tomatoes