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Boyz n the Hood

Boyz N the Hood is an Academy Award-nominated 1991 film written and directed by John Singleton. Starring Cuba Gooding Jr., Ice Cube, Laurence Fishburne, Angela Bassett, Regina King, Nia Long, and Morris Chestnut, the film depicts life in poor South Central (now South) Los Angeles, California, and was filmed and released in the summer of 1991. It was nominated for both Best Director and Original Screenplay during the 1991 Academy Awards, making John Singleton the youngest person ever nominated for Best Director and the first African-American to be nominated for the award. The film has influenced many present day Hip-Hop artists.

In 2002, the United States Library of Congress deemed the film "culturally significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.

Cast

Plot summary

In the film, John Singleton portrays the life of three young black youths, Tre, Doughboy, and Ricky, as they grow up in South Central, Los Angeles. Tre Styles (Hines II) is an intelligent young student, but encounters disciplinary problems at a young age. His mother Reva Devereaux, decides it would be best for her son if Tre were to live with his father, Furious Styles. Furious is a no nonsense disciplinarian who teaches his son how to be a man. Tre begins his new life in South Central L.A. and reunites with old friends Doughboy (Jackson) and Ricky (McCrary). All three boys lead very different lives. Tre is an aspiring college man, Ricky an All-American football player, and Doughboy a cocaine dealing gangster. The film offers a keen insight on racial inequality, drugs, sex, and gang violence.

The second (and primary) section of the film takes place in 1991. Doughboy (now played by O'Shea 'Ice Cube' Jackson) has just been released from prison and spends most of the time hanging out with dounia efron. Ricky (now played by Morris Chestnut) is a star running back at Crenshaw High School. He has a son with his girlfriend Shanice (Alysia Rogers) and is being recruited by the University of Southern California, but needs to earn a minimum SAT score of 700 to receive an athletic scholarship. Tre (now played by Cuba Gooding Jr.) also attends Crenshaw High School with Ricky and also has a girlfriend, Brandi (Nia Long). Tension exists between the two because he wants to have a sexual relationship with Brandi, who resists the idea because of her Catholic faith.

One of the most powerful scenes of the movie occurs when Ricky is shot and killed by members of a local gang. The men who shoot Ricky wear red and black colors, possibly associating them with the Bloods, a large gang from the Los Angeles area. Tre, who is Ricky’s best friend, has to make a decision as to how he is going to react to Ricky’s murder. Will he seek violent revenge on Ricky’s murder, or will he realize that murdering another young African-American male will just add to the omnipresent violence taking place everyday around him?

Themes

One theme is the benefit of a strong father figure on young black males. As Furious tells Tre: "Any fool can make a baby, but only a real man can raise his children". Of Tre, Ricky, and Doughboy, only Tre's father is present in his everyday life (Ricky and Doughboy, though brothers, have different fathers). He leads a very different life than his two friends because of his father's guidance. His decisions, especially not to partake in the revenge of Ricky's death, happen because of the morals instilled in him.

The film deals largely with the seemingly unstoppable violence that plagues urban life. It is set in South Central Los Angeles, where Tre's father owns a house. The neighborhood is a violent one; the sounds of shootings, sirens and patrolling helicopters are heard often and even something as common as a passing car can mean death. The police that patrol the neighborhood seem indifferent to the notion of preventing crime. Early in the film, Furious frightens off a would-be thief with the pistol he keeps in a shoebox under his bed. The police, arriving an hour after Furious' call, do not seem concerned about the effect of the crime on the people they are supposed to protect. Additionally, the African American officer possesses a combative personality and has a tense exchange with Furious about the proper execution of his job. (As a teenager, Tre is pulled over by the same policeman while fleeing gunfire on Crenshaw Boulevard and the officer threatens him with his pistol, an act of police misconduct. This officer was based on a black officer encountered by John Singleton while growing up in South Central Los Angeles.) The officer's remarks to Tre's father at the beginning of the film (the officer wishes Furious' shot would've killed the man) show a belief that law enforcement is lazy and corrupt.

Tre also grapples with the moral implications of teenage sexuality. As a young man, and due no doubt to peer pressure, it is important to lose one's virginity. Tre's girlfriend, Brandi, has strongly resisted Tre's demands to have sex with her, mostly due to her own beliefs as a Catholic. It is clear that Tre has no wish to follow the path of Ricky, who fathered a son with his own girlfriend. Additionally, Tre's father gives him a tough lecture on the responsibilities and perils of becoming sexually active after Tre tells him a fabricated story about his first instance of sexual intercourse. The conversation arose from an off-handed remark by Tre about his future children, which causes some anxiety in his father who does not want to become a grandfather in his mid-30s.

The main theme in the movie is to "increase the peace" and is shown at the closing credits, as well as being hinted in the beginning segment when the audience is presented with a "STOP" sign.

Other themes present but not covered as extensively include gentrification of poor neighborhoods, drug abuse, sexual promiscuity, equality in college admission, and cultural bias in standardized testing.

Awards

Academy Awards 1992

  • Nominee, Best Director, John Singleton
  • Nominee, Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, John Singleton

BMI Film Music Award 1992

Image Award 1993

  • Winner, Outstanding Motion Picture, Boyz n the Hood

MTV Movie Award 1992

  • Nominee, Best Movie, Boyz n the Hood
  • Winner, Best New Filmmaker, John Singleton

National Film Preservation Board, USA 2002

  • National Film Registry, Boyz n the Hood

New York Film Critics Circle Award 1991

  • Winner, Best New Director, John Singleton

Political Film Society, USA 1992

  • Winner, PFS Award, Peace
  • Nominee, PFS Award, Exposé
  • Nominee, PFS Award, Human Rights

Writers Guild of America, USA 1992

  • Nominee, WGA Award (Screen), Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, John Singleton]

Young Artist Awards 1992

  • Winner, Young Artist Award, Outstanding Young Ensemble Cast in a Motion Picture

In 2007, Boyz n the Hood was selected as one of the 50 Films To See Before You Die by Channel 4

Soundtrack

The following is the track list to the almost completely hip hop exclusive soundtrack to Boyz n the Hood. Notable tracks include "Every Single Weekend," KAM's first appearance on record and "How to Survive in South Central," an Ice Cube song that later appeared on the remastered version of Death Certificate.

  1. "How to Survive in South Central" by Ice Cube
  2. "Just Ask Me To" by Tevin Campbell featuring Chubb Rock
  3. "Mama Don't Take No Mess" by Yo-Yo
  4. "Growin' Up in the Hood" by Compton's Most Wanted
  5. "Just a Friendly Game of Baseball (Remix)" by Main Source
  6. "Me and You" by Tony! Toni! Toné!
  7. "Work It Out" by Monie Love
  8. "Every Single Weekend" by KAM
  9. "Too Young" by Hi-Five
  10. "Hangin' Out" by 2 Live Crew
  11. "It's Your Life" by Too Short
  12. "Spirit (Does Anybody Care?)" by Force One Network
  13. "Setembro (Brazilian Wedding Song)" by Quincy Jones
  14. "Black on Black Crime" by Stanley Clarke

Available on Qwest Records

References

  • In the video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, there is a pedestrian that resembles Cuba Gooding Jr's character Tre Styles. The storyline of the game itself is also heavily based on the theme of depicting gangster life.

Nia Long and Ice Cube would later work on Friday, Are We There Yet? and Are We Done Yet?

  • In the movie Be Kind Rewind, Boyz n the Hood is one of the many films that Mike and Jerry "Swede" (remake).

External links

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