Black Classics: The ones that are Actually Good, Sometimes Forgotten, and Overrated?

By Jayla Johnson

Growing up as an African American, watching certain movies deemed as ‘Black Classics’, seemed to be a part of my culture. Some of these movies would include the Friday Series, House Party, Boyz N the Hood, Coming to America, etc.

Many of these classics speak volumes in their own way to many relatable topics within the Black community. Other classics may simply just be funny, and many people have come to the same or similar agreement.

“Black classic movies are important because most of the classic movies relate more to my world, how I live, and where I’m from.” says UGA second year student TeKaya Pearson.

“I mean, the same reasons why they are important is the same reason why I like them. They also teach life lessons at the same time and open your eyes to certain areas of the world and how blacks are treated.”

In my years of watching classic Black movies, I had strong feelings towards certain classics. In various conversations about which classics are good or not, many people are afraid to speak on the classics they feel indifferent about. I am writing this article to express my opinion on what classics I feel deserved the attention they received.

*In each category, the movies are not placed in a particular order.*

My Top 5

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  1. Bad Boys (1995)

Why?: The entertaining friendship portrayed by Martin Lawrence and Will Smith and excitement from their attempt to taking down a drug leader, I can’t help but love it. It has become one those movies I know almost all of the lines. The action and comedy doesn’t feel forced to mix which takes it over the top.

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2. Friday (1995)

Why?: The endless laughs throughout the entire film makes it a hit for me. Just think about the opening narration from Chris Tucker. That has become one of people’s favorite lines to joke about on a regular Friday of any week. The overwhelming amount of laughs continues throughout the two sequels which makes me retain appreciation for the first film.

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3. Set it off (1996)

Why?: The simple answer would be sisterhood. Although these group of women are doing illegal activities, you can’t say the theme of sisterhood and hustle doesn’t keep them strong with stand their trials and tribulations.

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4. Best Man (1999)

Why?: The simple answer would be the humor and drama. Harper’s (Taye Diggs) book tells the dark truth of his past that his friends learn is based on all of them in their college years and early adulthood. Although Harper’s friends feel betrayed by him telling the truth to the entire world before them, the humor of Quentin (Terrence Howard) and realization of how much they love each other brings them back together. This theme is also carried into the sequel the Best Man Holiday which makes me fall more in love with the Best Man.

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5. Love & Basketball (2000)

Why?: My strong emotions draws this film into being one of my favorites. The dynamic of Monica and Quincy speaks volumes. This film becomes extremely relatable for people that have been in relationships or loved someone for an extended period of time. Monica and Quincy’s true love for each other and the game of basketball is what helps them find each other again. A lot of people that have deep rooted love and specific interests with their romantic partner become the reason people like to call Monica and Quincy “Relationship Goals.”

The Ones I Feel Are Forgotten

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  1. Soul Food (1997)

Why?: The theme of this movie is so common within black families, but plenty of people forget that essential part. Most black families have a family matriarch. When that person is lost, the family can go through many trials and tribulations of how to hold the family together. (I personally saw this when my great grandmother passed away.) This movie has a more of a serious tone rather than a comedic tone which I believe has made it forgotten at points within the realm of black classics.

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2. Fighting Temptations (2003)

Why?: There are many black classics that talk about the importance of going to church but not in the same way. I feel that this film is forgotten at times amongst the other bigger classics that talk about religion and the benefits of becoming involved with your church as a very important message. The love between Darrin (Cuba Gooding Jr.) and Lilly (Beyonce) for their church and each other from childhood to later on in adulthood also adds another small touch on the film which makes it one of my favorites.


The Overrated/Bad Ones

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  1. Poetic Justice (1993)

Why?: I just don’t feel the passion behind this movie. It honestly feels a little boring. I feel that this movie derives its attention from solely having Tupac Shakur in the film. I see what the director was going for, but this movie didn’t necessarily become as impactful as it should have given the major names in this film.

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2. How Stella Got Her Groove Back (1998)

Why?: It’s a common love story that everyone has heard time and time again, but this time a woman falls for a younger man. People do that all the time. I have watched this movie in its entirety possibly twice, and I would be fine without seeing it again. It’s almost just another “chick-flick” with a forced plot.

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3. Soul Plane (2004)

Why?: It’s just not that funny. I feel like this film gets a few laughs out of me, but it doesn’t make me want to fall out crying. Kevin Hart is supposed to be the star of the movie, but I do not think his role in the movie stood out. The movie also seems like it has too many subplots than what it should have.


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