Mo' Better Blues (1990) - Rotten Tomatoes

Mo' Better Blues1990

Mo' Better Blues (1990)



Critic Consensus: Mo' Better Blues is rich with vibrant hues and Denzel Washington's impassioned performance, although its straightforward telling lacks the political punch fans expect from a Spike Lee joint.

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Movie Info

Trumpeter Bleek Gilliam has many problems: his jazz quintet is troubled by internal rivalry, his manager and friend is deeply in debt to a bookie, and he is torn between two women. Spike Lee's colorful, jazz-fueled drama follows Bleek's attempts to juggle his friends, lovers, and, most importantly, his music.

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Denzel Washington
as Bleek Gilliam
Spike Lee
as Giant
Wesley Snipes
as Shadow Henderson
Joie Lee
as Indigo Downes
Giancarlo Esposito
as Left Hand Lacey
John Turturro
as Moe Flatbush
Abbey Lincoln
as Lillian Gilliam
Robin Harris
as Butterbean Jones
Cynda Williams
as Clarke Bentancourt
Bill Nunn
as Bottom Hammer
Nicholas Turturro
as Josh Flatbush
Dick Anthony Williams
as Big Stop Williams
Jeff "Tain" Watts
as Rhythm Jones
Steve White
as Born Knowledge
Coati Mundi
as Roberto
Zakee Howze
as Young Bleek/Miles
Jelani Asar Snipes
as Miles (age 1)
Glenn Williams III
as Miles (age 3)
Arnold Cromer
as Miles (age 5)
Bill Lee
as Father of the Bride
Branford Marsalis
as Party Guest
Douglas Bourne
as Jimmy the Busboy
Joe Seneca
as Big Stop's Friend
John Sobestanovich
as Taxi Driver
Flavor Flav
as Impatient Movie Patron
Darryl M. Wonge Jr.
as Miles at Birth
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News & Interviews for Mo' Better Blues

Critic Reviews for Mo' Better Blues

All Critics (34) | Top Critics (11)

It's tight, suspenseful, funny and packed with great music.

September 22, 2008 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Personal rather than social issues come to the fore in Mo' Better Blues, a Spike Lee personality piece dressed in jazz trappings that puffs itself up like Bird but doesn't really fly.

September 22, 2008 | Full Review…

Though it's full of striking visual ideas and actorly turns, it never fully convinces.

September 22, 2008 | Full Review…

Despite stylish camerawork and sturdy acting, this lengthy indulgence succeeds neither as jazz movie nor as cautionary tale.

February 9, 2006 | Full Review…

Mo' Better Blues is not a great film, but it's an interesting one, which is almost as rare.

October 23, 2004 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

From characters to camera angles, this story of a self-absorbed jazz trumpeter is one long cliche, the kind that might make his most loyal admirers wince and wonder, 'Spike, what happened?'

May 20, 2003 | Rating: 2.5/5

Audience Reviews for Mo' Better Blues

Plenty of style and energy, but not enough soul.

Marcus Woolcott
Marcus Woolcott

Super Reviewer

Benefits from the fact that this is Spike Lee's debut and doesn't feature the preachiness that brings down his later efforts.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

Middling effort from Spike Lee. It had some good scenes and it was well acted, shot etc. I just didn't really like Denzel's character and I think I kind of was supposed to. It also went on longer than the material required.

Sean Lass
Sean Lass

Super Reviewer

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