Poetic Justice (1993) - Rotten Tomatoes

Poetic Justice1993

Poetic Justice (1993)



Critic Consensus: Poetic Justice is commendably ambitious and boasts a pair of appealing stars, but they're undermined by writer-director John Singleton's frustrating lack of discipline.

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Movie Info

R&B star Janet Jackson made an impressive film debut in Poetic Justice as Justice, a hairdresser at a small salon in South Central Los Angeles. Justice uses her poetry to deal with her grief after her boyfriend is killed in a shooting incident at a drive-in. Hired to work at a hair stylists' event in Oakland, Justice is stranded when her car breaks down, until she remembers that her friend Ieasha (Regina King) was going to hop a ride down to Oakland with her boyfriend Chicago (Joe Torry), a postal worker who is heading there with a truck full of mail. Justice tags along to discover that Chicago's driving partner is Lucky (Tupac Shakur), the postman who delivers mail to her shop and keeps asking her out. Ieasha and Chicago have to deal with their own rocky relationship while Justice has to decide if she's ready for a new love -- and if Lucky is the man she's waiting for. Along with strong work from Jackson, Poetic Justice features a surprising turn from Shakur, whose nuanced performance as Lucky is in strong contrast to his "Thug Life" public persona. Justice's poems were written by Maya Angelou, who also appears in a small role. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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Joe Torry
as Chicago
Maya Angelou
as Aunt June
as Markell
Lori Petty
as Penelope
Special K. McCray
as Cousin Pete
Michael Rapaport
as Dockworker
Rose Weaver
as Aunt Audrey
Tone Loc
as J-Bone
Jenifer Lewis
as Lucky's Mother
Michael Colyar
as Panhandler
James Deeth
as Helicopter Pilot
Clifton Collins Jr.
as Mailroom Supervisor
Robi Reed-Humes
as Woman on Couch
Mark Miller
as Policeman #5
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Critic Reviews for Poetic Justice

All Critics (32) | Top Critics (13)

After a deceptively funny and offbeat beginning, the movie keeps restarting; each new start shows some promise, and Singleton's talent never really deserts him-but the parts don't come together to create a unified story.

April 26, 2019 | Full Review…

"Poetic Justice" is a disappointment.

April 26, 2019 | Full Review…

Some good performances are balanced out by the film's contrivances and gratuitously foul-mouthed characters.

April 26, 2019 | Rating: 2/5

"Poetic Justice" is thoroughly watchable. The director's script has bite, he is fluid with his camerawork and his eye and ear for details, particularly the details of female life, are superb.

April 26, 2019 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Singleton splatters his ambition all over the screen; he mixes up violence, romance, comedy, rage, and - yes - poetry. Yet he barely demonstrates the discipline to shape a scene.

September 7, 2011 | Rating: C-

"Poetic Justice" has a lot to commend, but discipline is not high on the list.

July 22, 2008 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Poetic Justice


I had recorded this on dvr to watch. The times were out, so I missed the last 15 minutes. I wasn't overly disappointed about it. Is okay, but not my type of thing.

Nicki Marie
Nicki Marie

Super Reviewer

an engaging movie with a messed up ending. one forgets how good shakur was as an actor until you realize that he was a huge chunk of the good films of this genre in the early 90's.

danny d
danny d

Super Reviewer


Not one of Singleton's best, but the story was ok. The actors/singers placed to play the lead characters were a bit annoying, but Regina King was the best whom always get's into her role, and stole the show from the two main characters. Mayo Angelou's poems are great, which is quoted by Janet Jackson in this ok movie. I liked it and it was amusing, but they just did not bring out the roles as they should have.

Donna Dawson
Donna Dawson

Super Reviewer

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