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Movie Review

The students of Lincoln High lack books, chairs, heat and hope. The only teacher who genuinely cares about them just got suspended. So, after an accidental shooting puts a cop's gun in their hands, several kids mount an offensive, demanding the city's attention and respect.

In Light It Up , six urban teens (a jock, a drug dealer, an honor student, a loner, a gangsta and a promiscuous punker) hole up in the school with a wounded security guard as a hostage. The standoff causes these social rivals to bond over shared pain and personal secrets. Call it The Breakfast Club Goes Postal in the 'Hood.

This film is trouble. Not just because of its violence, blasphemies, obscenities, racial slurs and street slang for sex and drugs. With a rap backbeat, Light It Up turns high school anarchists into cult heroes. They watch their drama unfold on TV. As a mob gathers outside with cheers of support, one mutineer says, "Now I got my own little war story to tell ... [It] may give my little bulls--- life some meaning." That sentiment is echoed time and again by the teens, all of whom seem to end up better off after the ordeal. Even a boy who dies is immortalized by this romantic insurrection of few consequences.

Granted, the students are initially victims of overly zealous authority figures. But they take a stand by taking a hostage and threatening to kill him. Inexcusable.

A pretty girl proudly tells the gun-wielding boy who has a crush on her, "You say you're tired of people not listening to you. Well, everybody's listening." Dim lights. Falling snow. Snipers on nearby rooftops. Ahh, young love. Such implicit messages make Light It Up a potentially inflammatory fantasy for the desperately disenfranchised.


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Usher, Forest Whitaker, Rosario Dawson, Marcello Robinson, Vanessa Williams


Craig Bolotin ( )


20th Century Fox



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Bob Smithouser

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