Boyz n the Hood Screen 6 articles

Boyz n the Hood

1991

Boyz n the Hood Poster
  • It risks obviousness in order to chip away at the complex ideas hovering beneath. Take its opening image: a slow push forward toward a stop sign as, in the far distance, a plane flies overhead. You can read the image multiple ways. On the one hand, it suggests possibility: the stop sign as the boundary of blacks’ social status, the limits of the hood, with the plane on the horizon giving them something to believe in. It might also be a warning, or an admonition: simply, “You cannot go here.”

  • There are two elements of the film that shine the brightest. The first is the complex relationship between the conscientious Tre (Cuba Gooding Jr) and his firebrand father (Laurence Fishburne)... The second element of real note is the beautifully dialled back performance by Ice Cube as the powder keg ex-con who wiles away his days sat on the porch, sucking back cheap beer and surveying his crumbling kingdom.

  • It's true that Boyz n the Hood is “no fairy tale,” as its poster claims, but the film could certainly be accused of sharing that genre's lack of nuance. Looking back on it 25 years later, it's hard not to view some of Singleton's directorial touches as hamfisted haymakers: the opening shot; Furious's winding diatribe on the evils of gentrification; the many lingering shots of blood, viscera, and violence. But it's this earnest straightforwardness that provides the film much of its power.

  • This powerful drama, set in crime-riddled South Central L.A., became a benchmark for a new wave of black American cinema in the early 1990s and, in addition to boasting commanding turns from Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett, helped to launch the screen careers of a remarkable constellation of talent, including Cuba Gooding Jr., Ice Cube, Nia Long, Morris Chestnut, and Regina King.

  • Singleton's message is unimpeachable, and his opening salvo—grim statistics followed by a pointed close-up of a stop sign—evinces a bold, confrontational didacticism that would have merited all the "next Spike Lee" buzz that attended the film's original release. What follows, however, plays more like "next Stanley Kramer," drawing everything in clumsily broad strokes and settling for what amounts to an extended "tsk tsk tsk."

  • From a technical and emotional standpoint, this picture is much stronger than Up Against the Wall or Straight Out of Brooklyn... But unfortunately, its message and part of the emotion underlying it get so entangled in Singleton's commercial preoccupations on the one hand and his personal fixations on the other that the film often seems at war with its own best instincts.

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