One of the least commonly filmed ways of going on a road trip is taking the bus, perhaps because getting stuck with many unfamiliar people is not the most romantic way to see the country. But Spike Lee found a lot of drama, comedy, and political relevance in a story of a bunch of guys trapped on the bus. That story is 1996’s “Get On the Bus,” following a group of Black men en route to the famed Million Man March. Lee believes that every one of those million men has their own story, and he fits as many of those stories as he can into one bus.
As usual with Lee, “Get On the Bus” has an impressive cast, including Ossie Davis, Charles S. Dutton, Andre Braugher, and Bernie Mac. The characters touch on social issues, including homophobia and the anti-Semitism of Million Man March leader Louis Farrakhan, but mostly they have frank and funny conversations that naturally reveal their prejudices and moral stances rather than shout them out. Lee did n’t write “Get On the Bus” (that was Reggie Rock Bythewood), but it shares the perceptive dialogue and unexpected comedy of Lee’s best screenplays, including his beloved “Do the Right Thing.” “Get On the Bus” is a smaller movie than “Do the Right Thing,” but its confined setting doesn’t mean it’s any less riveting.