The Great Debaters Synopsis
The story of professor Melvin B. Tolson who formed a debate team at an African American college in the 1930s.
Read Full Synopsis

Movie Reviews

Critic Ratings

65
SEE ALL CRITIC REVIEWS
100

Chicago Sun-Times

By Roger Ebert
This is a film that is affirming and inspiring and re-creates the stories of a remarkable team and its coach.
Full Review
88

Philadelphia Inquirer

By Carrie Rickey
A triumph. Unapologetically old-school, in both the literal and metaphorical meanings of the term, Debaters overlays the story of social...
Full Review
88

ReelViews

By James Berardinelli
Ultimately an uplifting movie because it is about triumph.
Full Review
75

Boston Globe

By Wesley Morris
For a film about the power of speech, it's the quiet moments of rapture that say everything.
Full Review
75

San Francisco Chronicle

By Walter Addiego
An edifying and forthright drama that aims to create a lump in the throat, and succeeds.
Full Review
75

New York Daily News

By Jack Mathews
The three young actors are good, but the movie is held together from beginning to end by another riveting performance from Washington. Few...
Full Review
75

Entertainment Weekly

By Owen Gleiberman
The Great Debaters is like one of those sentimentally revved youth-sports-team crowd-pleasers. This time, though, the sport is debating,...
Full Review
70

Wall Street Journal

By Joe Morgenstern
Mr. Washington is splendid, as always. So is Forest Whitaker as James Farmer, Sr.
Full Review
70

The Hollywood Reporter

By Kirk Honeycutt
An earnest drama about the search for self-esteem and sense of responsibility among young black people that successfully relies on its fine...
Full Review
63

USA Today

By Claudia Puig
An enjoyable, rousing film, despite its formulaic quality.
Full Review

The best way to wrap up a great year of 2007 movies

By MovieFan0618
The Great Debaters offers many different types of emotions that will surely keep you inclined to watch the film. The emotions I experienced varied from extreme rage to a few heart-warming speeches....

THE GREAT DEBATERS

By RLBCREATIVESOLUTIONS
Excellent movie for family. Students learn something about tenacity. Very good family orientation plus historical. Good charactirization for all. Thanks....

Great Movie

By Movie-Guru-Fo-Shooru
I watched this movie with my mom. She took me to see it. She loved it. I loved it. This movie has made me appreciate the opportunities I have now as compared to the struggles that African Americans...

Good But Not Great

By morningcolors
I expected to see the greatest debating ever, but, I'm sad to say, the big debate finale failed to deliver a knockout punch. Not a bad film at all, but several plot holes and sloppy cinematography...

GREAT

By Sambola34
GREAT is the Definition of this movie. GREAT acting GREAT speeches ! GreAt movie to see !...

The Great Debaters

By mayoung53
Great historical info probably unknown to many americans. Loved the sceneary, the actors and acting. Tough piece of american history - dealth with very well. Might need a tissue to dab your eyes...

Inspiration with Tension

By Tripp Goyt
This movie has Oprah written all over it. It's your typical inspirational movie - something you'd usually see in a sports drama except instead of sports its the debate team and instead of coach you...

The Great Debaters

By seahawkdan
This was an excellent movie! I plan on purchasing the DVD when it comes out. From an African-American history standpoint, it illustrates the struggles we had to go through in the early years of this...

The Great Debaters

By bknight1951
I love movies that are encouraging, uplifting and inspirational - especially when it's a true story. One person can make such an enormous difference in another's life. This is such a story. ...

The Great Debaters

By Fritz4
One of the best movies I have seen in my life. Very moving and touching. A truly historical account of the Jim Crow South....

More Info

Rated PG-13 | For depiction of strong thematic material including violence and disturbing images, and for language and brief sexuality
What Parents Need to Know
Common Sense Media says Pause for kids 12 & under Inspiring true story confronts racism head-on.
Read the Common Sense Media Review
VIOLENCE & SCARINESS
LANGUAGE
DRINKING & DRUGS
SEXY STUFF