You get the ground beneath your feet, partner, get the wind behind your back and go out in a blaze if you got to!
Juice begins focusing on four main characters who consider themselves "The Wrecking Crew." The Wrecking Crew includes Quincy, nicknamed Q (Omar Epps), Raheem (Khalil Kain), Bishop (Tupac Shakur), and Steel (Jermaine Hopkins). It starts out showing their relatively innocent everyday lives surrounded by trouble. The four constantly run into a local gang and get harassed, skip school to hang out at a pool hall, and steal records from the local disk store. No major trouble is displayed at the beginning of the movie compared to the outstanding crimes usually associated with Harlem, New York, such as murder or drug trafficking. The movie is mainly seen through Q's eyes. Q has aspirations of winning a disk jockey competition, called Mixmaster Massacre, and he makes it to the second round. During the down time before the second round, Q and his crew rob a local store and use the appearance at the nightclub as an alibi. The robbery does not go as planned when Bishop unexpectedly pulls the trigger on an innocent person. Things go south from this point in the movie, creating an unexpected twist and tragic ending.
Dickerson does a good job with his selection of actors. The acting by the young teens in Juice help to make the movie so realistic and believable. Tupac Shakur, in particular, played a huge role in the film. He was nominated for Outstanding Actor NAACP Image Award for his part in the movie. He did well portraying the role of a greedy, selfish, psychotic young man. During his interrogation after the store robbery in the movie, he acts like the good guy to the police and plays the part so well that the audience could almost believe he is telling the truth. He has a few chances in the film to shine as an actor and he takes advantage of every opportunity. In one scene Tupac gets into an argument with Q at steel's house and is able to fluctuate his emotions well, he begins happy and then begins to be angry. The scene is based on Bishop and he delivers great acting. Tupac does well playing his character, Bishop, who becomes control crazy throughout the film. He craves respect from others and his attitude towards his friends changes throughout the film.
The film presents a real-life problem, the peer pressure by other teens in society. In one scene he claims he is, "Tired of running." He is tired of running from the police and local gangs. "It is time to take control," he states. In Bishop's eyes, gaining power and respect will help to loosen this pressure. The main character, Q, becomes peer pressured into making irrational decisions, such as robbing the store. When presented in the film with the idea of robbing the store he becomes frustrated and yells, "Are yall crazy?" Still, he is pressured into doing so. Characters Q, Bishop, and Steel, experience peer pressure as most teenagers do in real life. Teens who try cigarettes for the first time, or stay out past curfew for the first time, sometimes are peer pressured into doing so. Dickerson does a good job in presenting real-life situations in the movie, which makes this movie different.
Dickerson does well differentiating this movie from others in the same genre. Compared to other movies, such as Menace to Society, Dickerson has a more positive view on these similar societies. In Menace to Society, urban violence is glorified and constant throughout the film. For example, in Menace to Society, the first scene is the robbery of a gas station and a murder, followed by the introduction with vulgar hip-hop music. Violence is constantly present in the movie. Menace to Society gives low income, minority based neighborhoods a terrifying image, when in reality, there is some good in these neighborhoods, light does shine through, it is not all bad. Dickerson takes a different perspective on these type of neighborhoods compared to other directors like Alford Hughes. Juice begins in an easy-going setting. The main characters are shown getting ready for school with motivational hip-hop music playing. The film implements humor to help further improve the quality of the easy-going setting. Only when things turn south in the movie does violence begin to occur.
Ultimately, Juice is about four troubled teens with internal group problems enhanced by their surroundings. It does not glorify urban violence, as other movies in this genre do. Dickerson takes a more true-to-life point-of-view to relay the film's message. The director takes a more realistic stand point, instead of something that you would only see on television.