A Fresh Face

Baby Boy is director John Singleton’s transitional period between the hood and Hollywood. Since it was sandwiched between his hard R Shaft remake and action sequel 2 Fast 2 Furious. Baby Boy wasn’t on my radar until two of my favorite co-workers brought it to my attention. Although it’s rougher than I’m used to, I did end up liking Baby Boy for what it is. It’s tough, but it can be funny when it wants to be. The title refers to the young black Jody Summers being compared to a baby who refuses to grow up.

Despite having 2 kids by 2 different baby mamas, Jody continues to fool around while living with his mama. His only ambition is fixing bikes and selling women’s clothes. Despite his lifestyle, Jody at least tries to be better than what society expects him to be. Although the role was made for Tupac, he died before he had the chance to play Jody. So Baby Boy ended up being Tyrese Gibson’s debut performance. It’s arguably his best performance alongside Taraji P. Henson who also got the role early in her career.

Jody is molded by the people in his life. Peanut doesn’t have much of a role, but he truly loves Yvette. His mama gives good advice, but Ving Rhames plays a complicated potential father figure. Omar Gooding doesn’t quite live up to his brother, but Sweetpea is a memorable best friend. Snoop Dogg is particularly unlikable as Yvette’s ex-con ex-boyfriend. It’s not as hard-hitting as Boyz n the Hood, but Baby Boy is a hood film with something to say.

Baby Boy

Jody and Yvette fight

Straight Outta South Central

Boyz n the Hood is about as real as you can get with the hood. I actually saw Straight Outta Compton (see that review here) before Boyz n the Hood. They left anything having to do with the movie out of Straight Outta Compton (save for a few mentions of it). So I knew I needed to see Boyz n the Hood at some point. So Happy Kwanzaa, here’s Boyz n the Hood. As I’ve said in other reviews, this isn’t the kind of race movie I’d normally watch. But I can set aside the movies intense/dramatic tone and just see it for what it is. And what it is is incredible. Ice Cube makes his acting debut and he’s a natural. A group of kids (later teens) grow up in their increasingly violent neighborhood. They make life changing decisions all while dodging drive by gunshots. Boyz n the Hood is all about Black-on-Black violence. Which the movie says is the cause of the most death in the African American community. Like I said, Boyz n the Hood feels real and it is very intense. In the end, the message is clear. You either continue living in a cycle of violence and eventually get shot or you get out and have a long fulfilling future. A powerful message that earned first time director John Singleton an Oscar nomination. Making him the first African American to get one. He was also 24 years old when he directed it! That makes him the youngest director ever to get a nomination. Boyz n the Hood is just overall a very significant and important movie.

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Ricky (left), Tre (center), and Doughboy (right) n the hood