The Wood (1999) – Movie Review

Info

Original Title: The Wood
Country: United States
Director: Rick Famuyiwa
Release: 1999
Genre: Comedy
IMDb | Rotten Tomatoes
The Wood

Mike (Omar Epps) remember the good times growing up in Inglewood with his two best friends, Roland (Taye Diggs) and Slim (Richard T. Jones), while Roland has second thoughts about his wedding.

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Intro

Just like in the previous review, this is the first full-length movie from the director, in this case, Rick Famuyiwa.

Rick Famuyiwa is American with Nigerian ancestry and like the characters in the movie, he grew up in Inglewood, a city in the Los Angeles County, and his experiences in life gave some inspirations to the story told on the movie.

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The Forum, Inglewood (Photo by Ritapepaj)

Quite recently, another movie by Famuyiwa got a lot of recognition: “Dope” from 2015. Also a comedy about three teenagers in Inglewood, but a very different movie in general. A great movie, but not the one I will be reviewing now.

I only watched these two movies from Rick Famuyiwa and really liked both of them, but unfortunately, his other works didn’t interest me enough to watch them. Most of them are romantic comedies, a sub-genre I usually avoid.

During my adolescence, I used to let the television on very late at night while playing games like FIFA, NBA and some old fan made Dragon Ball game. “The Wood” is a movie I discovered completely by accident in one of those nights.

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Rick Famuyiwa speaking at the 2016 San Diego Comic Con International, for “Warner Bros. Pictures”, at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

Very early when Omar Epps’ character moved to Inglewood, I started to pay attention and soon paused everything I was doing to dedicate entirely to the film. It’s a movie I watched many times since and became one of the favorites of earlier.

Eventually, I became older and watched a great number of movies, and many of them, better than “The Wood”, but even now, this movie have a place of importance in my memory.

The Wood

Roland (Taye Diggs) is about to get married, but he is nowhere to be seen, so his two best friends, Mike (Omar Epps) and Slim (Richard T. Jones), have to find him and bring him to his bride.

Mike is the one telling us the story, beginning in 1986, when he moved with his mother and brother from North Carolina to Inglewood, California. From then on, we go back and forth between “present day”, where the wedding is soon to happen, and their teenage years.

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Slim (Richard T. Jones) and Mike (Omar Epps)

Usually, the movies set in South-Central Los Angeles and the near areas, have a focus on gang violence and are very serious. In “The Wood”, the director had the care of treating things differently.

When the young Mike (Sean Nelson) get to his first day at school and meet Slim (Duane Finley) and Roland (Trent Cameron), they say that in Inglewood “either you gangbang or you ball”. Crips and Bloods are present in the film, but just as a secondary element.

Just to be clear, gangbang here is about street gang violence. I find out about the other meaning of “gangbang” when I heard this term in some Gangsta Rap songs and decided to Google it.

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Alicia (Malinda Williams) and Mike in the dance

Beside this gang element, the movie is great showing that, the teenagers in Inglewood are no different from the teenagers in other parts of the country. They have the same type of classes, dances and the discovery of the sexuality.

Talking about sexuality, as is very common in movies portraying teenagers, Mike develops a love interest for Alicia (Malinda Williams), sister of a Piru gang member, Stacy (De’aundre Bonds), one of my favorite things in the movie.

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Stacy (De’aundre Bonds)

A comedy movie has to be funny, otherwise is not exactly a comedy. “The Wood” is a funny movie, having a very relatable humor since we all been through adolescence. Relatable humor is not the kind of stupid meme humor from Instagram, but a humor we can be empathetic with.

Is a good movie, with competent acting, compelling story and more important, it’s funny and easy to watch comedy. For others, it might not have the same importance it has for me, but definitely worth 105 minutes of your time.

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Author: Marlon Santos

Random guy who loves movies and series, among other things.

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