"This is an intriguing independent film, deftly directed by Anthony Drazan, which explores the concepts of interracial romance and reactive racism. Done in the best tradition of independent films, it features some powerhouse performances and a provocative storyline.The film takes place in Detroit, Michigan, a predominantly black city. Zack (Michael Rappaport) is a white, middle class, jewish, urban teenager whose mother died when he was young. He lives with his father, Richard (Ray Starkey), an erstwhile swinger and owner of an inner city music store. Zack attends the predominantly black, local public high school, and his best friend, Dee (DeShonn Castle), is also black and middle class. Zack is very taken with black culture. When Dee's cousin, Nikki (N'Bushe Wright), who is black and from East New York, Brooklyn, moves into town, Zack, who has just been dumped by his white girlfriend, finds himself smitten by her. They gradually begin a romance that attracts a lot of unwanted attention. When the high school hot head and bad boy, Nut (Ron Johnson), a black gang banger wanna be, develops the hots for Nikki, it is the beginning of the end with the inevitable violent result.This is a surprisingly good film with superlative performances by Michael Rappaport, DeShonn Castle, Ron Johnson, N'Bushe Wright, and the late Ray Starkey. The tension throughout the movie is kept taut and believable. Though somewhat predictable, the film manages to keep the viewer engaged throughout. This is a well made film that deserves a viewing."
Poignant and Very Real
Irishgirl | Idaho | 11/22/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Zebrahead" is living proof that low-budget films can have just as great an impact if not greater than the big name movies. This movie sends an important message, and it is one that everyone should see.
The place is Detroit, Michigan with a large African American population. Our main character is Zack (played fantastically by Michael Rapaport), a white Jewish high school kid fascinated with African American culture and rap music. When Zack isn't driving his jeep with the rap music blaring its bouncy rythem, he is an exquisite DJ who creates his own cassettes.
After Zack breaks up with his white girlfriend, he gains an interest in the new girl from New York; beautiful Nikki (played nicely by N'Bushe Wright), who is African American and the cousin of Zack's best friend Dee (played by DeShonn Castle) who is also African American. After gaining permission from Dee and getting advice from his lust-loving father (played by the late Ray Sharkey) and his grandfather at their inner city record store "Saul's Melody Land," Zack starts dating Nikki much to the dismay of Nikki's family, peers at school, and the hot-headed, tough-talking school bully Nut (played wonderfully by Ron Johnson).
Racial tensions boil to a head when Nut wants the gorgeous Nikki for himself and doesn't want a white guy like Zack standing in the way. Nut's attempts to get Nikki to be his are met by her turning him down, which adds fuel to the growing fire of anger building inside of him and his anamosity toward Zack. Despite Nut, Nikki's friends advising Nikki to stick with her own race, (particularly a mop-haired, spectacle-wearing preacher kid) and the stares and curiousity that Nikki gets from Zack's white friends, Zack and Nikki are determined to stick together.
All hell breaks loose at the local skating rink after Nut's violent tongue turns physical and Dee is killed. Nut disappears and the school is left to mourn over the loss of Dee and intensly discuss who should have done what, who is to blame, and of course the issue of black and white. One reviewer summed it up very well; while an Asian girl sobs in her seat, the African American preacher kid gets into a heated fight with an Italian, and not far away, Zack and Nikki are holding each other in grievance and love.
It is a story about love, jealously, friendship, violence and race. Put all these issues together and you get a remarkable, poignant, realistic film that opens our eyes to the morals and dilemma's of life and the struggle against controversy. To me, the stars of the film are Michael Rapaport (Zack) and Ron Johnson (Nut); both do oustanding with the characters they portray. Anger, emotion, attitude, language; both do a flawless job with everything.
If you have not yet watched this movie, go to your local video store and rent it right now! Once you've seen "Zebrahead" you will never forget it, and you will automatically want to add it to your movie collection. Believe me; it won't collect much dust on your shelf. "Zebrahead" is highly recommended."
donnee | 02/11/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Zebrahead" was a movie that Spike Lee's "Jungle Fever" should have been. I'm not saying that "Jungle Fever" was a bad movie, I just felt as though "Jungle Fever" was more about a family helping a crackhead son instead of interracial love. "Zebrahead" had a great story with excellent actors and suspense. Micheal Rapaport is a wonderful actor and really showed his colors in this one. N'Bushe Wright portrayed her role as the no nonsense Nikki flawlessly, I would like to see more of her in movies. It seemed like the actors ad-libbed most of the time and it made the movie more humble and realistic. Great stuff all around!"
Irishgirl | 10/05/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A beautiful, realistic Romeo and Juliet drama. The acting was wonderful, the writing brilliant. My only compliant is that more people haven't seen this movie, or heard of it. Definitly something I recommend to lovers of urban dramas."
GREAT mature,cutting-edge drama!!!
anthony tucker | ghettos' of Detroit:(Home of tha boys' whose main | 01/12/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I love this gutsy indy flick about race-relations,urban crime maladies and"taboo"romantic aspirations..The(very true-to-life)segment touching on young men candidly discussing racial(sexual)sterotypes was an excellent touch! This movie features a good(hyper-sensitive)plot and VERY good acting throughout..However what really was the"clincher"for me as far as liking this flick was that it featured a lot of Detroit landmarks that were seen and/or frequented by me regularly as a proud life-long Detroit resident!! Cody Highschool(where the movies school-scenes take place is within walking distance of my house,and "SkateLand"skating rink on the eastside where the fatal shooting took place(And ironically where a LOT of Detroiters used to get"popped"!!)and those empty fields where one can set the natural gas-leaks afire appears to be in my absolute favorite neighborhood in Detroit:"Delray... I always enjoy seeing my city on the silver screen...But this movies' sensitive topic and emotional/realistic acting would've been a SOLID movie even if it was filmed on location in Toledo Ohio,Muskegon Michigan or Gary Indiana!! Overall a really great"no-holds-barred"mature,little-known movie!!"