Boyz n the Hood (1991)

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After being suspended from school in 1984, Tre Stiles comes to live with his father Furios (Laurence Fishburne) to learn how to become human. In the new neighborhood, he spends time with stepbrothers Derren and Ricky Baker, and they soon become best friends. Seven years later, Tre (Cuba Gooding Jr.) is an educated teenager preparing to go to college, Ricky (Morris Chestnut) is an excellent athlete with scholarship potential, while Deren (Ice Cube) is a petty criminal who has been a few times In the prison. The three live in a dangerous neighborhood where dreams are shattered by bullets and face violence that can change their lives in an instant…

Singleton drew inspiration for writing the screenplay from his own life and from the lives of people he knew. He originally developed the idea as an application for admission to film school in 1986, and after graduating he sold the script to Columbia Pictures, on the condition that he sit in the director’s chair. After excellent earnings and success in the film awards season, Boyz n the Hood achieved the status of a classic and in 2002 the US Library of Congress included it in the National Film Registry as a work that is culturally, historically or aesthetically significant. In addition, he launched the film careers of Ice Cube, Cuba Gooding Jr. and others.

This film is a portrait of the social problems faced by three friends and basically shows us how difficult it is to be a teenager in the ghetto. Tre was lucky enough to grow up with a strong father figure, devoted himself to education, and earns money in his spare time. His father built him a strong character to do what is right, not to lie and to always take responsibility for his actions. However, upbringing will not make the typical pressures on a teenager, the expectations of divorced parents and a crime-ridden neighborhood disappear from his life.

Tre found himself between half-brothers who deal with a difficult life situation in a totally opposite way. Riki is a talented athlete, who already has a wife and a child, and is trying to find salvation in a sports scholarship. Deren succumbed to the influence of his environment and was imprisoned several times as a result, but he still maintains a strong sense of pride and a code of honor. There are several other characters who work together to create a constant interpersonal drama, which is further enhanced by the sounds of gunfire, helicopters or police sirens.

Thematically rich, this film looks at urban USA with much more depth and compassion than many similar films. It’s really incredible for me to believe that a man of less than 24 years old was able to deliver such quality characters, to present us with a story that has such depth and an atmosphere that places us in the ghetto. Singleton tried to present the reality of life under the hood and to reach a wider audience, and with a conventional but very well realized coming-of-age drama, he really succeeded in that. He had the wholehearted help of a great, very convincing cast.

Boyz n the Hood is certainly not a fairy tale, and the serious immediacy gives the film a large part of its power, which still resonates in every frame. Most of the events take place practically on the same street, which gives the film a unique sense of place. The script has a natural flow, which includes scenes like when the company just falls on the porch, thus establishing the dynamic of their friendship. By following these characters outside the demands of the plot, we get the feeling that we are living the experiences along with them. Much of the film shows a deeply conservative view of the world, and we also get a few politically charged monologues, mostly delivered by Furious.