It's hard to believe that it's been 25 years since Spike Lee's "School Daze," where we got a glimpse inside the life of students at a predominately black college. Spike never went back to see what happens to those characters when school ended and real life began. Luckily, writer/director Eugene Ashe had his own ideas when old friends get together, share a few laughs, a few steps, and a few tears in "Homecoming."
Married couple Hillard (Shelden Shaw) and wife Leslie (Ruby Miles) are adjusting to having an empty nest while their daughter Ashley is away at college. Former roommates show up to reminisce and celebrate their college homecoming weekend. Outspoken Deena (Tiffany-Denise) is the first to arrive revealing the "burden" of being a writer on the hit gothic drama "VAMPS." Although she writes about women who suck the blood out of them, she complains that L.A. men won't give her a second thought since she's not a size 2. Former flame and Psych professor Barrett Wallingford (Duane Allen-Robinson) is the next to arrive. Barrett and Deena have more history than a PBS telethon, but just as much chemistry. Finally, the last of the group Abby (Nina Ashe) shows up. No sooner than she can walk in the door are the foursome asking the circumstances of their missing mate and her late husband, Robert.
The group shares their memories of their fallen friend while facing some long buried issues among themselves. No one is safe as friends, lovers, and spouses have to come to grips with the truth and if they can forgive regrets of the past.
"Homecoming" is one of those rare stage adaptations that gets it right. Director Eugene Ashe wisely brought actors (Ashe, Ford, Robinson) from the original off-Broadway production to reprise their roles and it added to their amazing onscreen chemistry. The dialogue is contemporary enough to keep the audience entertained without the performance being a caricature of a stage production. Ashe is a member of the R&B band Funky Poets, but the soundtrack is one of the only weak spots as the selection seems a bit loud and heavy-handed. It would've been nice to have the film venture a bit outside the house or at least have shown some awkward homecoming moments, but they cover quite a bit of ground within the four walls that they're mainly confined.
Believable, grounded characters, and engaging dialogue by talented actors makes this homecoming a must see.
"Homecoming" MPAA: Unrated. Running time: 93 minutes. Available on VOD and DVD