In California in the early 90′s, it was a very..different time. We had just gotten out of the ”Greed” Decade known as the 80′s and the trend’s & styles of that time were “so last decade”, but the new trends were still in limbo. The whole Grudge movement was just about to get blow us away, but there ws something else going on at that time.
Rap music was “fun” in the early part of the 80′s with rappers like Kool Moe Dee, Run-DMC, The Beastie Boys, The Fat Boys, Grand Master Flash, & a few others. However, there was ANOTHER side of that music scene that was dark & violent; Gangster Rap. Rappers like Ice T, Ice Cube, Public Enemy, Dr. Dre., and others. It was East Coast vs. West Coast & things got….bad!!!!! Along with that, there were films that expressed what was going on at the time as well. When Hollywood has a real good idea or a hit film, you can sure bet there will be 20 more “wanta be’s ” come out just like it, but they don’t all have the same success as the big hit did. In this case, it was Boyz N the Hood. With the Rodney King beating, the riots in L.A., and the Gang War..it was a scary time in the City of Angles. I was lucky, I was in the Valley at that time , but seeing it on the News every night..well, they might as well have been talking about war in the Middle East or somewhere…it was just about the same. So, without further ado, here is my 20th Anniv. review of BoyZ N the Hood.
This film was a huge success for many reasons. It came from the amazing vision & storytelling of John Singleton, who ACTUALLY had to ask permission to film most of the scenes in South Central & could only film at “certain times” so that it didn’t interfere with gangland activities, in return the director was not bothered or harassed & if anyone gave him problems, certain leaders of the gang would “take care of it”. That in itself is pretty scary, I think. This film outshined all the others & landed some Oscar nom’s as well. It is as real as you can get it of that particular time & place. It’s also a “Stand By Me-ish” type of story, at first. And it has a very talented cast as well.
The story is about 4 friends who live in South Central L.A. in the 80′s, growing up together until one of them, Tre (played by Cuba Gooding, Jr. – his best role yet), who get’s into trouble at his school & must now live with his father, Furious Styles (played by Laurence Fishburne), in the REAL bad part of L.A. The “Heart of Gangland”. Tre’s buddies; Doughboy (played by Ice Cube – his best role as well), Ricky, & Chris are glad he’s living in their neighborhood for good, but Tre has his doubts. He felt like he’s been wronged by his mother (played by Angela Bassett), for dropping him off there. However, he enjoys hangin with his homeboys & trying to pick up the pretty girl across the street, Brandi.
The two brothers are completely different, Ricky is the footbal star & wonders what road he should really take in life even tho he already has a girlfriend & new baby & he’s not even out of High School yet. Doughboy is his brother and a hardcore gangster. Not afraid to show his toughness or pull out a gun, everyone knew he’d grow up bad. The story revolves around these three childhood friends in the early 90′s as teenagers. There is love, hate, violence, anger, confusion, and a solid message in this film and for it’s time, it needed to be made for all to understand the horrors of Gangland & life in the Hood. Even tho it is very violent film, bad language, and just plain hardcore – I do very much recommend it for anyone who hasn’t seen it or wants to know a film that is truly a symbol of it’s time.
Bottomline: I didn’t see this film in the theaters when it first came out because there were actual shootings and fights between gang members at some showings, but you didn’t know which theater it was gonna happen at, so you just didn’t take any chances. A few years later, I was not only blown away by Singleton’s storytelling and wonderful and very real vision of real life in the Hood, but the performances were solid & it is quality filmmaking at it’s best.