Boyz n the Hood is the popular and successful film and social criticism from John Singleton about the conditions in South Central Los Angeles where teenagers are involved in gun fights and drug dealing on a daily basis.
Rick, it's the Nineties. Can't afford to be afraid of our own people anymore, man. 1991 "One out of every twenty-one Black American males will be murdered in their lifetime" "Most will die at the hands of another Black male" "Increase The Peace" is the closing message of John Singleton's powerful, intelligent and affecting call for calm in South Central Los Angeles. Often mistakenly presumed by those who haven't seen it to be a film that glamorises violence, Singleton's debut film takes us into South Central and holds us there by just shooting the story. No trickery or overtly moralistic posturing from the director (and writer), just an unpretentious look at life in a modern ghetto. The story follows three black teenagers as they ponder on what life holds for them as adulthood lurches from around the corner. Brothers Doughboy (Ice Cube) and Ricky Baker (Morris Chestnut) and best friend Tre Styles (Cuba Gooding Jr), each have the usual worries that come with leaving the teenage years behind. Parents, girls, careers, not returning to the pen! But this is no ordinary coming of age drama, we have been party to this neighbourhood that these boys live in. This is a place where a trip to the store can get you killed in a drive by shooting. A place where those keen to learn and do their homework have their muse shattered by the frequent sound of gunshots and sirens filling the South Central night. Though Singleton can be accused of painting some of his characters as too saintly, he should be forgiven since this is after all, a message movie. Besides which his portrait of this particular neighbourhood is done from honest memory since he himself be a former youth of South Central LA. There in lies one of Boyz's trump cards, Singleton, through his own observations, asks of those in "The Hood" to take responsibility for what they do. Something that is potently given narrative credence courtesy of Tre's father's (a fabulous understated Laurence Fishburne) deep musings. Once the built up tension explodes with the inevitable tragedy that all should be ready for, the impact is like a sledgehammer hitting bone. Not in a blood letting for impact sake, but with the aftermath as a family soaks up the situation. It gives 90s cinema one of its most affecting and damning scenes, one that once viewed is hard to fully shake out of the memory bank. Here Singleton could possibly have bowed out of the story, but he goes further, expanding the aftermath and taking us, along with the characters, to the final "Increase The Peace" dénouement. It's been called everything from an After School Special to the most important Black American movie made thus far. I agree with the last assessment. 9/10