Senior Editor
11.06.07 130 Comments

The Great Debaters (watch the higher res trailer at Yahoo) is Denzel Washington’s sophomore effort (Antwone Fisher was his first) as a director; starring Denzel Washington, Forest Whitaker, and… Denzel Whitaker.  No, Seriously.  And none of them are related. 

Anyway, it’s another heartwarming, based-on-a-true story tale, this time about Melvin B. Tolson, a professor at Wiley College in Texas, who in 1935, inspired students to form the school’s first debate team, which went on to challenge Harvard in the national championship.

It’s hard to draw too many conclusions from the trailer – Denzel and Forest Whitaker are two of the best actors working today, but movies like this range from great to diabetes inducing.  I’ll tell you this though, I saw this trailer this weekend when it premiered before American Gangster (which, as expected, was solid), and when the frame came up saying "From Producer, Oprah Winfrey", people laughed.  But maybe that’s unfair; James Frey didn’t write this one and Oprah has money – who turns down money?

The most appalling part for me was the end of the trailer when they announced the title: The Great Debaters.  Are you kidding me?  For once, both Master Debaters and Cunning Linguists are applicable and you pick neither?  It’s a slap in the face, I tell you. 

Around The Web