Monday, February 22, 2010

COOLEY HIGH (1975) - Michael Schultz

As a diehard fan of the late '70s TV show What's Happening!!, I'm ashamed to say I'd never seen the movie that very loosely inspired it until now. Just watch the two-part Doobie Brothers episode ("Doobie or Not Doobie: Parts 1 and 2") where Rerun tries to illegally record the concert and tell me those two exclamation points in the TV show's title are not completely earned.

Cooley High is a classic coming-of-age movie, easily on par with Diner and the overrated American Graffiti. This movie is just plain fun all around, though it ends on a very bittersweet note. It's not your bread and butter blaxploitation pic. It takes place in the 1960s, involves no bloody revenge or heavy-duty racial politics. It's mainly just two friends in the ghetto trying to get over, get laid and have some good times. And when that's done with as much pizazz as in Cooley High, that's more than enough.

Note: For those Raj, Rerun and Dwayne fans looking for a What's Happening!! fix, I'm sorry to report that the only similarity you will find is a girl named Dee and a main character also wears horn rim glasses. For fans of The Wire, I'm happy to report that main character is played by Glynn Turman (Mayor Clarence Royce).

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