Any Fool With a Dick Can Make a Baby, But Only a Real Man Can Raise His Children.
I suppose the theme for my last week of my Film 100 class is “Make Whitey Feel Bad” because the last two movies we watch are Boyz n the Hood and Do the Right Thing. I’m okay with it because my friend Forty had requested one of these movies so I can kill two gangbangers with one drive by, as it were. But the problem I have with reviewing this movie is the same problem I had when I reviewed Menace II Society. First, I want to avoid seeming racist. Second, both of these movies spell their titles poorly. Thirdly, I feel like I’ve already seen this movie because I’ve seen Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood. Well let’s see if I like Boyz n the Hood better without the jokes, written and directed by John Singleton, and starring Cuba Gooding Jr., Laurence Fishburne, Ice Cube, Morris Chestnut, Angela Bassett, Nia Long, Tyra Ferrell, Redge Green, Dedrick D. Gobert, Alysia Rogers, and Baldwin C. Sykes.
A ten-year-old kid named Tre Styles (Desi Arnez Hines II) gets into a fight at school. Because of an agreement he had with his mother Reva Devereaux (Angela Bassett), he must now go and live in Crenshaw with his father Furious Styles (Laurence Fishburne). Here he reunites with some of his childhood friends … who are promptly taken to jail for stealing. Seven years later, Tre (Cuba Gooding Jr.) is an upstanding citizen with good grades and a job, Ricky (Morris Chestnut) is now a star running-back with aspirations of getting a scholarship, Doughboy (Ice Cube) is in and out of jail, and Chris (Redge Green) is confined to a wheelchair from a gunshot wound. Though things seem to be going well for Ricky and Tre, it’s hard growing up in the ‘hood … or so I am told.
I feel like I’m not the right audience for this movie. I’m not saying I didn’t like it. It was a very poignant movie. But I’m so very white and I really don’t like dramas. I don’t understand the compulsion to see a movie that will make you sad. I know these kinds of things happen! I just don’t like to think about it! But the movie does seem to successfully capture the danger of that kind of life. It’s exciting and suspenseful and sad most of the time. I wouldn’t say it always makes sense to me, but as I said, “I am so very white.” It’s not going to be too easy to draw from my own personal experiences in order to fully relate to this movie. I still don’t understand Reva’s motivation for sending Tre to live with Furious. First of all, this mother fucker’s name is “Furious.” That seems like a bad idea right away. I assume he’d have a temper that could perhaps have earned him this moniker, and I’d also assume that this is an awful name to give to a character. Secondly, I don’t understand how the appropriate punishment for getting into a fight in school is to make your kid go live in the deeper, darker ghetto where he will be even more surrounded by bad influences and have to fight even more just to survive. I got the feeling that Reva just thought that Tre was a drag and was too much of a distraction for her to get her career and learning on so she pawned him off on his father so he could be out of sight AND out of mind. It turned out okay for the most part as Tre learned his lesson well from someone that turned out to be a pretty good influence for someone named “Furious,” but even he almost made the wrong choices at the end of the movie. I also didn’t agree with everything that Furious said. Most of it would at least lead Tre in the right direction while still being motivated in what I would call a bit of crazy racism, like his whole monologue about liquor stores. I agree that the people in this neighborhood should stop drinking and killing each other all the time. That’s a pretty easy idea to get behind. But maybe we shouldn’t be blaming the white man for all of this as if it’s some crazy white man conspiracy to keep the black man down. Maybe instead blame the people in this movie that are scarcely seen without a 40 in their hands. Putting a liquor store there isn’t a conspiracy so much as it’s just good business.
The greater majority of the performances in this movie were worthy of applause, but I never really got on board with Cuba Gooding Jr. First of all, he never looked like a 17-year-old. I would say early 30’s at best. He did some of the sad moments well in the movie, but I was not a fan of his reaction to what happens to Ricky. Him walking into Brandi’s house and doing some shadow-boxing struck me more as goofy than convincing. I thought Laurence Fishburne did a good job throughout the movie, but not a good enough job that I’m going to call him “Larry Fishburne” as he is listed in the credits. He should feel happy that I didn’t call him Morpheus as we all know I want to. I also liked Ice Cube in the movie while simultaneously hating his mom, played by Tyra Ferrell. Yeah, he didn’t always (or usually) make the right decisions in the movie, but I put the majority of the blame on her. She was a rotten bitch. As was that black cop guy. Bernie Mac’s character in Don’t be a Menace to South Central wasn’t even that much of an exaggeration for how confusingly racist this guy was.
Boyz N the Hood was a movie that I can call a good movie based on most of its quality, but not one that I feel like I’m really meant to relate to that much. I didn’t grow up anywhere near this kind of thing really, but it is a very interesting and informative watch. I would feel confident in saying that everyone should watch this movie. Whitey can feel bad for themselves, people that don’t live around this kind of thing can get an interesting glimpse into a world they typically prefer to believe doesn’t exist, and the people who do live in this world can get some positive messages from a man named Furious that might help them get out of that world. Stopping that kind of violence is a worthy cause, even if the white man must be blamed for most of it. Boyz N the Hood gets “Stupid motherfucker! Don’t you know you can catch that shit from letting them suck on your dick?” out of “That’s what we’re here to celebrate, right?”
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