The Great Debaters ***1/2 (out of four stars)

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Directed by Denzel Washington. With Denzel Washington, Forest Whitaker, Denzel Whitaker, Jurnee Smollett and Nate Parker. Distributed by MGM and the Weinstein Co.

Running time: 2 hours, 7 mins.

Parent's guide: PG-13 (sexual candor, lynching victim)

Showing at: area theaters