The Great Debaters 2-Disc Edition (2008) By the time Oscar winners Washington and Whitaker — as rival influences on an all-black debate team — collide on screen in The Great Debaters…
Movie on DVD Review

The Great Debaters 2-Disc Edition (2008)

EW's GRADE
C+

Details Release Date: May 13, 2008; DVD Release Date: May 13, 2008; Movie Rated: PG-13; Genre: Drama; With: Denzel Washington and Forest Whitaker; Distributor: MGM

By the time Oscar winners Washington and Whitaker — as rival influences on an all-black debate team — collide on screen in The Great Debaters, any excitement around their scenes is deflated by the manufactured drama of this true-life historical lesson. Director Washington films the story of Wiley College's 1935 debate champions like a clichéd sports movie — one that lacks complexity or suspense. EXTRAS Spirited interviews with surviving Wiley debaters; gushing from starstruck producer Oprah Winfrey: ''I hope that in my lifetime I get...to work with Forest as an actor.'' C+

Originally posted May 02, 2008 Published in issue #990 May 09, 2008 Order article reprints