Boyz n the Hood (1991)
Director John Singleton's debut chronicles the trials and tribulations of three young African-American males growing up in South Central Los Angeles. When young Tre (Cuba Gooding Jr.), a bright underachiever, begins to show signs of trouble, his struggling professional mother (Angela Basset) sends him to live with his father (Lawrence Fishburne), a hard-nosed, no-nonsense disciplinarian. There he befriends Ricky (Morris Chestnut), a burgeoning football star, and Doughboy (Ice Cube, in a standout performance), a would-be gang banger. Over the years, each chooses his own path: Tre seems bound for college; Ricky is a blue-chip running back with his pick of schools; Doughboy is a dope dealer and bona fide gangster who drifts in and out of the county juvenile facility. All is well until, without warning, a rival gang chases down Tre and Ricky with tragic results. Doughboy immediately prepares for revenge, forcing Tre to decide whether to jeopardize his future and, perhaps, his life for the price of revenge and self-respect. Sometimes riveting, Boyz'N the Hood is not without its problems. The film tries to cram every single issue facing the black community into an hour and a half of screen time, making the film seem at times forced. The symbolism seems forced as well, and the film is often unbearably heavy-handed. Also, the characterization often relies on cardboard cut-outs; every white character in the film is a one-dimensional bigot, and the black police officer with whom Tre and his father deal is even worse than his Caucasian counterparts. Still, the unevenness of the film is redeemed by some moments of true brilliance. ~ Jeremy Beday, Rovi … More
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Critic Reviews for Boyz n the Hood
Even in its warmest moments, there is a fearful chill in this hood's air. And on the hearts of its boyz.
An absorbing, smartly made dramatic encyclopedia of problems and ethics in the black community, 1991.
A booming, heart slam of a film.
Shows some genuine talent in handling character and action, and equal amounts of confusion and attitude when it comes to matters of gender and ghetto politics.
What makes the film so affecting is the no-nonsense direction and Singleton's sure, specific sense of the rewards and hardships of community; in this, he is lent excellent support from a fine cast.
In this setting, the actors could easily disappear into speeches or stereotypes, but they don't; the film's strength is that it sustains an intimate and realistic tone.
An incredibly moving, character-rich drama about life in South Central L.A.
A coming-of-age story without fluidity, hopping from scene to scene often indiscriminately. Singleton has stamina but lacks connective tissue, messing up development and motivation, unable to juggle the three distinct perspectives.
An assured effort that hits home in relating to parental responsibility as a means of encouraging good citizenship.
[VIDEO ESSAY] "Boyz N the Hood" is more than a time-capsule of American existence. It is a boldly defiant, and desperate, call for peace in the midst of anarchy.
A film any seasoned director would be proud of, but as a debut is nothing short of amazing.
Singleton strips his art of almost all ambiguity in the service of thematic and emotional and political transparency.... A tragic purgation of pity, anger, and fear.
Singleton turns a typical coming-of-age yarn into the angry expression of the plight of young black males in the ghetto. This accomplished debut still represents the helmer's best work.
There's a good reason this flick made such a big splash and inspired so many copycats.
Singleton had his fingers on the pulse of South Central at a time when it desperately needed help. It's too bad we didn't listen to him soon enough.
I's a sadly optimistic and touching classic that confidently conveys a coherent solemn mood of a modern American wasteland.
John Singleton's ground breaking film that launched many careers.
One of the best films ever made - unforgettable stuff
Speaks to our hearts with its messages about responsibility, manhood, friendship, hope, self-esteem, and prosocial behavior
Audience Reviews for Boyz n the Hood
A heartbreaking, exceptionally acted look at violence in America. Thoughtful, current, and necessary.More
Once upon a time in South Central L.A. ... It ain't no fairy tale.
Good strong Film! John Singleton's Boyz n the Hood remains one of the best fictionalized and most poignant summaries of some of America's toughest internal problems - racism, violence, poverty, and drug abuse. This is not a hip-hop film, nor a detached and dehumanized story about "gang violence", its a story about growing up fatherless or motherless in a war zone with a faceless enemy, where people do not value each other's lives at all and value their own lives only slightly more. This is a great film about real issues, sensitively portrayed and thoughtfully examined. Every American who cares about the vast untapped potential of our people ought to take a long, hard look at this one. These are not 'black problems', they are everybody's problems, and their solutions will require everybody's understanding. I could think of far worse places to begin developing that understanding than Boyz n the Hood.
John Singleton's portrayal of social problems in inner-city Los Angeles takes the form of a tale of three friends growing up together 'in the 'hood.' Half-brothers Doughboy and Ricky Baker are foils for each other's personality, presenting very different approaches to the tough lives they face. Ricky is the 'All-American' athlete, looking to win a football scholarship to USC and seeks salvation through sports, while 'Dough' succumbs to the violence, alcohol, and crime surrounding him in his environment, but maintains a strong sense of pride and code of honor. Between these two is their friend Tre, who is lucky to have a father, 'Furious' Styles, to teach him to have the strength of character to do what is right and to always take responsibility for his actions.
Hollywood has churned out story after story after story. Some are inspirational; some are hilarious; and some are heart-wrenching. But with so many stories comes to question whether these stories are thrown out to the public simply as techniques to stir audiences emotionally or to actively broaden the perspectives audiences may have to act out and do something that the world may be inspired by. I personally don't believe that movies will have that kind of impact, but "Boyz n the Hood" manages to do something that many films fail to do: be pure and honest.
The film has good intentions. America as it stands, is looked at as a prosperous, safe, and united nation. Not in the hood. The hood's a dangerous place, which is the main theme that lies in "Boyz n the Hood". This theme's been done an exhaustive amount of times. I could just imagine critics saying, "Yes, we get it black America." Regardless, the way the characters are portrayed, how direct the themes are addressed, and how they're resolved delivered in such an extremely pure, honest, and true to the heart manner, that this theme hits home powerfully. It's apparently clear that the purpose of this film is not just to bring awareness with a lukewarm attempt, but full-heartily wants to pry audiences off their chairs to do something. However, I must stress that it is not executed in a way that is too preachy as well (I'm looking at you "Crash"). It's an engaging narrative bolstered with genuinely relatable characters and a script that's flexible and smooth. I haven't seen a film this straight-forward and non-deceptive with no agenda for a very, very long time.
"Boyz n the Hood" might not have the straps of a technically marvelous film. It doesn't have the prettiest cinematography, camerawork, or editing, but the heart behind the film, the genuinely engaging characters, the themes, and messages push the film to great heights. "Boyz n the Hood" is more than an entertaining hoodrat flick.
Boyz n the Hood Quotes
- Doughboy! Got some blow, got some rock?
- Get the fuck out of my face! And keep them goddamn babies off the streets!
- Furious Styles:
- Any fool with a dick can make a baby, but only a real man can raise his children.
- Tre Styles:
- Either they don't know...don't show...or don't care about what's going on in the hood.
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