Retro Review – Boyz N The Hood

This review originally appeared on on September 14, 2004

“Increase the Peace”

Boyz N the Hood came out of nowhere and became the buzz movie of 1991. Premiering at Cannes Film Festival, eventually Boyz N the Hood would produce a best director nod for John Singleton who, at the age of 24, was the youngest director ever to be nominated.
Tre Styles (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) is a troublemaker as a young man, so his mother sent him to live with his father in the hood to learn how to be a man. Tre’s father, Furious (Laurence “Larry” Fishburne), is a strong-willed father who doesn’t want his son to end up like so many young men growing up in the slums of LA. Doughboy (Ice Cube or O’Shea Jackson as I like to call him…) and Ricky (Morris Chestnut) are brothers who live with their single mother across the street from Tre. Doughboy is constantly on his way in or out of jail. Ricky, on the other hand, is a star football player who is probably going to get a scholarship to play football and get up out the hood.
The temptations of the streets haunt Tre and his friends. Tre is sick of all the drugs, alcohol, and violence, there really was no way to avoid it. While Tre is sick of all that, Doughboy is caught up in the game… dealing drugs and drinking 40s all day long. Boyz differs from other movies though in showing the realistic side to people who do ill. I’ve come to learn that everyone who gets in trouble with the law isn’t sneaking around town like the Hamburgler. Doughboy has some bad qualities, but he is a likable character.
The ending of this movie is very moving and very intense. If you aren’t crying like I nearly was, you’ll be affected. The whole movie feels real – the characters are based on real people, the places where (and still are) real places. The events may not have happened exactly like that in real life, but they are believable.
The main reason this movie is so believable is because of director John Singleton. In a time when Hollywood was dominated by old, white males, Singleton (a young, black male) brings a very youthful enthusiasm to the sometimes uppity art that is directing. It’s kind of unbelievable that this movie ever got made considering Singleton was only months out of college when it got greenlighted.

Video & Sound
Anamorphic widescreen – always a plus! Boyz N the Hood has a realistic look. Actually, much of the movie seems like a documentary shot like a big budget movie. The video quality could be a little better. The colors are nice but that’s mostly because of the locales and the costumes. This flick definitely looks aged though, which is disappointing because certain movies like the Wizard of Oz are much older yet look a little better. The sound is a little disappointing since it’s Dolby 2.0. I think a movie like this would’ve benefited from a new audio transfer. The music and the ambient noise are something that add a lot to this movie, so I guess I’m kinda bummed.

The audio commentary features just Singleton, but it’s not disappointing whatsoever. He has a lot to say about the movie since it is very personal to him. His stories are entertaining – listening to this track enhances the viewing of Boyz N the Hood quite a bit. Another gem that’s on on the second disc is Friendly Fire: The Making of an Urban Legend which is a 45-minute documentary which brings almost all of the main characters back to talk about their thoughts on the movie and how it started most of their respective careers.
Also on the disc are two deleted scenes (meh!), two music videos (meh!), and about ten trailers (which I really liked!).

Closing words…
One of the most moving films that I’ve ever seen… I think it’s one of the best films of the 90s even though imdb (my favorite website!) users don’t even have it in the top fifty! Should be top 10 material… top 100 overall. But, anyways, if you are a fan of Menace II Society, which I think is the only comparable movie quality-wise of the same genre, you should check this out. Actually, if you’ve never seen it, you *should* check it out.

Movie – 9
Video & Sound – 6
Extras – 9
Overall – 8