Boyz N the Hood (1991)
Rated R

Starring: Cuba Gooding, Jr, Ice Cube, and Morris Chestnut

out of

When this movie burst into theaters in 1991, it caused a bit of commotion. It was heralded by some as being an eye-opening account of life in troubled communities of inner city Los Angeles. It was condemned by others as a violent exploitation of the same issue. To anyone that's ever seen it, it's clear that the latter opinion is obviously that of someone who hasn't seen the film or didn't pay any attention to it.

The film focuses on the lives of three young men in the Crenshaw area of Los Angeles. Tre (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) moves in with his father (Laurence Fishburne) when his mother decides to go to school and get a better job. Across the street live Ricky (Morris Chestnut) and Doughboy (Ice Cube), two brothers who couldn't be any different. Ricky wants to play professional football and Doughboy seems happy to be a thug without any real ambition.

The neighborhood where these young men live is full of the problems and dangers of the inner city. Drugs, crime, guns, alcohol, sex and gangs all provide a plethora of ways to get into trouble as a young person. Somehow, the three manage to stay fairly clear of trouble, except for Doughboy, who is arrested for stealing from a convenience store and is sent to juvenile detention until he's 18.

The movie's script, written and directed by John Singleton, documents in great detail how things are in the inner city and tries to explain through his characters what it's like to deal with these situations everyday. Much explanation comes by way of Furious Styles, Tre's dad, who teaches his son and his friends about the way the neighborhood is kept in shambles by outside influences. His explanations make a lot of sense and, for those that are unfamiliar with these types of neighborhoods, might even sound unbelievable. Unfortunately, most of it is very true.

The violence that some may criticize this movie for glorifying (which it doesn't) is a very real part of these character's everyday life. A statistic shown at the beginning of the film says that one in every 21 black males will die from gunshot wounds inflicted by another black male. The film shows how different people faced with these types of surroundings deal with them. It's not always a pleasant film, but that's the point. This isn't a pleasant place to live.

The performances, the script, and the musical score hit on all cylinders, making this one of the most intense films I've seen. Although, it's obvious that certain situations are set up merely to deliver certain lines of dialogue or make certain points, they're worth hearing. I urge everyone to see this film and make up their own mind. You may not agree with everything the movie has to say, but at least you will have had the opportunity to make a decision about something that gets very little attention.

Trivia: Director John Singleton has a cameo in the film as a mailman. (Source: The Internet Movie Database)

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