Boyz n the Hood (1991) – Movie Review

Info

Original Title: Boyz n the Hood
Country: United States
Director: John Singleton
Release: 1991
Genre: Crime
IMDb | Rotten Tomatoes

The life of Tre (Cuba Gooding Jr.), Rick (Morris Chestnut) and his brother Doughboy (Ice Cube), three young men growing up in the streets of Crenshaw, South Central Los Angeles, amidst school, gang violence, and police brutality.

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Intro

Just like “The Wood”, this is another remarkable movie for me in my teenage years. My three favorite rappers at the time (and maybe to this day) were 2pac, Eazy-E and the man in this movie, Ice Cube.

In the 90’s, Ice Cube was a flying solo after leaving N.W.A., and beginning his career as an actor. “Boyz n the Hood” was his first movie and, for me, it is his best without any doubt.

Just like Jhonny Depp, I see Ice Cube now as a parody of himself, always in the role of “the angry guy who can stand the stupidity of the goofy guy in comedies”. At least Ice Cube is not a disgusting woman beater.

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He still is a legend of West Coast Gangsta Rap and will always be, but as an actor, he seems to lack enough prestige to receive a decent, not cliché role. However, if you disagree, you can always comment below.

Just like Ice Cube rap career, the rest of the main cast is quite successful, some more, some less.

Beginning with Morris Chestnut, he has a consolidated acting career and every time I see him on screen, I find him very likable and good actor. My two favorite movies with him (not counting Boyz n the Hood) are “Like Mike” and “Kick-Ass 2”.

In the roles of Tre’s parents are Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett (Furious and Reva, respectively). Both worked together again in “What’s Love Got to Do with It” (1993) receiving Academy Award nominations for their leading roles, eventually losing for Tom Hanks and Holly Hunter.

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Furious (Laurence Fishburne) and Reva (Angela Bassett)

Cuba Gooding Jr. had his most recent success playing O.J. Simpson in the first season of the series “American Crime Story”. In the 69th Academy Awards ceremony, in 1997, the actor won the award for best supporting actor for his role in Jerry Maguire.

I mentioned the director, John Singleton, in my review of “All Eyez on Me”. He still holds the record of youngest director and screenwriter nominated an Academy Award. He was 24 when he wrote and directed “Boyz n the Wood”, and was a nominee in both categories.

In the same occasion, Singleton became the first black director to be nominated for an Oscar.

Just as the last note, the movie has the same name of Eazy-E’s debut single from 1987, released in the album “N.W.A. and the Posse”.

Boyz n the Hood

Reva (Angela Bassett) is raising her boy Tre (Cuba Gooding Jr.) in Inglewood. When Tre is 10, she sends him to live in Crenshaw with his father, Furious (Laurence Fishburne) with whom he will be able to learn many important values for his life.

In an early scene at the school, we see a mural of kids’ drawings, one depicting a funeral, other with a police car stopping a black man and the last of a police chopper searching the ground.

Tre’s teacher described him as a highly intelligent boy with a very bad temper. This part of the teacher’s conversation with Reva is happening over a scene where some guys are fighting, while Tre past walks the fight naturally as if that was a common occurrence.

These two instances and others demonstrate the normality of violence, exposed to the kids since their early age.

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Tre (Desi Arnez Hines II), Rick (Donovan McCrary), their friend Chris (Kenneth A. Brown) and Doughboy (Baha Jackson).

Living with Furious, Tre starts to learn his responsibilities and lessons in how to be a man. As the years past, his father’s educations pay off, and at 17 Tre is a responsible boy, with a good steady job.

Rick (Morris Chestnut) and Doughboy (Ice Cube) have the same mother, but different fathers, both absent. Brenda (Tyra Ferrell), the mother, treats the two boys very differently, praising Rick and being harsh with Doughboy.

In her own words to him, Doughboy is “just like his daddy” and “never gonna amount to shit”. Although is never explicit said, it seems like Doughboy believes his mother’s words, and act like it, going to a criminal lifestyle.

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On the other hand, but also reflecting the treatment received by the mother, Rick is the opposite of Doughboy. He is a father, have a girlfriend and is the star of his high school football team, even attracting the attention of university scouts.

The movie has many funny and light moments, and other times is serious and straight with its social commentary. A scene, in particular, is one of my favorites and is a good example of this seriousness and social commentary.

Furious take Tre and Rick to Compton, in the background, some young people are drinking some Olde English and listening to “Growin’ up in the Hood” by Compton’s Most Wanted.

He explains the practice of devaluing the neighborhood’s properties to buy them cheap, reform and sell it at a high price, forcing the poor community to move to a more affordable place.

An old man and the gangsters gather around to listen to Furious, and he further explains the efforts of keeping the young black people killing themselves, selling crack and getting drunk.

Something he didn’t talk in the movie but have a connection, is that the drug epidemic in the Los Angeles area is responsibility of the CIA’s promiscuous relationship with the Contras, a right-wing guerrilla group. Something possible because of the United States’ perpetual paranoia over a non-existential communist threat.

In the last act, the film gets darker and heartbreaking. The endless cycle of violence, from police brutality to gang violence, eventually caught up with the story, making it one of my favorite movies to this day.

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It’s a movie with an all-black main cast, black writer and director and many black men and women in the off-camera cast. I think is important to say this, because people talk about the social importance of “Black Panther” (2018), pointing the cast as a reason.

I agree that “Black Panther” is a great social achievement and was very excited to watch it for the first time, but after I did, I got very disappointed by its absolute mediocrity. It’s just not on the same level as, for example, “Moonlight” (2016), “Get Out” (2017) or “Boyz n the Hood”.

Of course, if you like a lot “Black Panther”, there is no problem at all and I not trying to deny its merits, I’m only saying I prefer many other movies. To each his/her own.

Actually, every one of these movies has importance in a country where the genocide of black people is acceptable since the very first African slaves set their feet in the American land. I don’t mean to disrespect, I’m only stating the well-documented facts.

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