Get on the Bus
Absorbing tale of unique moment in history; strong language.
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Get on the Bus
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Get on the Bus is a 1996 drama directed by Spike Lee that tells a fictional story about a dozen or so African American men who journey by chartered bus to the real-life Million Man March, which took place in Washington, DC in 1995. There's lots of strong language, including a minor character who uses the "N" word a lot to provoke a reaction. Other strong language includes "p---y," "f--k," "d--k," and "f--got." An instance of mild violence shows a fistfight with a slightly bloody mouth. Characters remember past crimes and laughingly remember corporal punishment. There's no depiction of sexual behavior, but there's some frank, talk about sexuality like being "moist between the legs" and enjoying the feel, smell, and taste of a woman's genitalia. Some minor characters are stereotypes to make a point or raise an issue. It's a good opportunity to talk and learn about the Million Man March and a broad range of issues about how African Americans can make their lives and their world a better place, both as individuals and as a community.
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What's the Story?
GET ON THE BUS tells the story of a dozen or so African American men who in 1995 board a chartered bus to get from South Central Los Angeles to Washington, DC to participate in the Million Man March. Among the characters are a troubled father and son, an elder who missed the march on Selma, an aspiring filmmaker, a reformed gang member, an actor, and a same-sex couple. As the men get to know each other on the long trip, they explore a host of issues affecting the Black community and themselves as individuals. Will they return from the march better men than when they left?
Is It Any Good?
Thanks to a strong script and a very talented ensemble cast, this is an absorbing and thought-provoking story that captures a unique moment in American history. The large cast of characters in Get on the Bus are well developed thanks to both the writing and the abundance of charisma the actors bring to their roles. Veteran director Spike Lee takes a fluid, bouncy, sometimes grainy approach to the camera work, which helps keep the movie from feeling heavy-handed even though lots of serious issues are explored.
And while it's definitely stimulating and expresses plenty of controversial ideas, it's also full of wit and humor that keep the story moving and make the characters relatable. Adult themes, mature sexuality, and lots of strong language make it best for mature teens and up.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the positive representation of African Americans in Get on the Bus. Why is that important? Who were your favorite characters, and what were their strengths and weaknesses?
What about all the strong language? Was it realistic? Does it matter if it was or not?
Had you heard of the Million Man March before you saw this movie? What did you learn about it? How do you think it compares to the Black Lives Matter movement? Search online or use your local library as a resource to find out more.
- In theaters: October 16, 1996
- On DVD or streaming: January 30, 2001
- Cast: Ossie Davis, Andre Braugher, Bernie Mac, Charles S. Dutton
- Director: Spike Lee
- Studio: Columbia Pictures
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Activism, Friendship, History
- Run time: 120 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: Language
- Last updated: December 23, 2022
Our Editors Recommend
Do the Right Thing
Spike Lee's masterwork of racial unrest; discuss with kids.
They've Gotta Have Us
Lively, important history in film docuseries; some language.
Outstanding drama about MLK's fight for equal rights.
For kids who love African American stories
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