John Singleton’s Boyz n the Hood tells the story of three young men growing up in the streets of Crenshaw, South Central Los Angeles, amidst school, gang violence, and police brutality.
Reva (played by Angela Bassett) is raising her boy Tre (played by Desi Arnez Hines II) in Inglewood. When Tre is 10, she sends him to live in Crenshaw with his father, Furious (played by Laurence Fishburne).
Living with Furious, Tre starts to learn his responsibilities and lessons on how to be a man. As the years past, his father’s education pays off, and at 17 Tre (played by Cuba Gooding Jr.) is a responsible boy with a steady job.
Next to Tre’s house, live two brothers, Rick (played by Morris Chestnut) and Doughboy (played by Ice Cube). They have different fathers, but the same mother, Brenda (played by Tyra Ferrell), who treats the two boys very differently, praising Rick and being harsh with Doughboy.
Rick, like his friend Tre, has a stable life. He’s a father, has a solid relationship, and is the star of his high school football (American Football) team, even attracting the attention of university scouts. On the other hand, Doughboy is a thug, recently released from jail, who spends his time drinking Olde English with friends.
During this transition from adolescence to adulthood, these boys also have to struggle with the singularities of their environment. Gang violence and police brutality side-by-side with SAT Tests and lessons about condom use.
Boyz n the Hood
Just like The Wood, Boyz n the Hood is another remarkable movie for me since my teenage years. I watched it several times and recommended for most of my friends.
The plot is about the people but it’s also about the place. The characters are representations of many other young individuals living in the projects, who so far, barely had a voice or someone to represent them outside the Rap Scene.
The movie has funny, light moments, especially early on. When it gets to the last act, the film gets darker, heartbreaking, and the endless cycle of violence cachtes up with our characters. The fearlessness of Singleton in bringing to the screen the harsh reality of the underprivileged areas of Los Angeles made Boyz n the Hood one of my favorite movies to this day.
In the very beginning, in Tre’s school, there’s a mural of kids’ drawings, one depicting a funeral, another a police car stopping a black man, and the last one a police chopper searching the ground.
Later we have a voice-over conversation between Tre’s teacher and his mother. The teacher describes him as an intelligent boy with a bad temper, meanwhile, we watch as Tre walks past some guys fighting over a dice game as if that was a trivial occurrence in his life.
The children see bodies rotting in the open, bullet holes, and blood in the alleys. These instances, among others, demonstrate how violence is natural in these kids’ lives. They’re regularly exposed to it from a young age, be it inside their homes, or outside, in the streets.
My favorite scene is when Furious takes Tre and Rick to Compton. Around some gang members, drinking and listening to music, and an old man, all who gather around to listen to Furious.
What Furious didn’t say is that the drug epidemic in the Los Angeles area is a fault of the CIA’s promiscuous relationship with the Contras, a right-wing guerrilla group. The USA used the Contras to fight a proxy war against Nicaragua’s Left-Wing government.
The San Jose Mercury News exposed how the CIA helped drug traffickers to transport and store cocaine that went to Freeway Rick Ross, a Los Angeles crack dealer. With the profits, Ross could buy weapons from CIA-linked dealers.
I’m using an article in the Institute for Policy Studies website as a source, you can find it Here. In this article, you’ll also find the history of the CIA’s involvement in the drug market.
The cast of the movie is very talented, and there’s almost no character I didn’t like. There are the villains (played by Raymond D. Turner, and Lloyd Avery II) that we end up hating, but for the right reasons.
In the early ’90s, after leaving N.W.A., Ice Cube began his solo rap and acting careers. Boyz n the Hood was his first movie, Doughboy is my favorite character from him, and also my favorite one of the film.
Doughboy’s mother says he’s just like his daddy and never gonna amount to shit. Although it’s never explicitly said, it seems he believes his mother’s words, at least unconsciously, and that’s what drives him to a criminal lifestyle. It’s probably the most complex Ice Cube character I’ve ever seen.
Now, he’s better at acting, but he’s always in the role of the angry guy who can’t stand stupidity. He’s still a legend of West Coast Gangsta Rap and will always be, but as an actor, he seems to lack enough prestige to get a decent role, or he’s happy with these roles, who knows.
Morris Chestnut might be the one with fewer accolades after Boyz n the Hood. However, he has a consolidated acting career, and it’s a very likable and good actor, it’s a guy I like to watch on screen.
Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett, who played Tre’s parents, are both marvelous actors.
Laurence Fishburne is the one more recently in my mind because of his role in the 2011’s Contagion, which had a bump in popularity since the Corona Virus outbreak. I watched it last Sunday, I highly recommend it.
There are countless reference movies with these two, including when they were reunited in 1993 in What’s Love Got to Do with It, receiving Oscar nominations as leading actors. Eventually, they lost the award for Tom Hanks and Holly Hunter, respectively.
Tre was Cuba Gooding Jr.’s breakthrough role, with his outstanding performance, his career only went up. It reached its pinnacle in 1997 when he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Cameron Crowe’s Jerry Maguire.
His most recent success was in the first season of American Crime Story, in which he played O.J. Simpson. I still didn’t watch it, maybe I’ll do it before going to sleep today, then I can review it here in the future.
The last actor, or in this case, actress, I’ll mention is Regina King. Her role in Boyz n the Hood is peripheric, but now she’s a goddess of acting. Oscar-winner for her supporting role in Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk, and giving one substantial performance after another.
The original score and some soft R&B shit are kinda cheesy, but the rap songs are of very high quality. Things like Run-DMC’s Sucka MC’s and Compton’s Most Wanted’s Growing up in the Hood. I’m more the Compton’s Most Wanted type, though.
The cinematography is not the best, sometimes it’s a little too dark, and in general, it’s nothing special. But that’s just one point among so many great things that this movie has.
John Singleton still holds the record of youngest director and screenwriter nominated an Academy Award and the first black Director ever nominated. He was 24 when he wrote and directed Boyz n the Wood, and in April 2019, at only 51 years old, he passed away. Seeing him and Kobe Bryant in the In Memorian of this year’s Oscars was extremely heartbreaking for me.
With Boyz n the Hood, early 90s, Singleton made a movie with an all-black main cast and a majority of black men and women in the behind-the-camera crew, long before the Hollywood wokeness.
Boyz n the Hood is one of the most important movies of my life. Together with Shaun of the Dead, it was the film that began my passion for Cinema. It might have a few problems, but to me, it’ll always be 10 Moons.
That’s it for now, don’t forget to only use your AK when necessary, and always far away from schools. Bye!