This title is up for two reasons this week. The first being that 'Straight Outta Compton' put me in the mood to revisit it, and the second being that this also ties in with those Oscars, going back to the 1992 ceremony. Writer/director, John Singleton, was nominated for two Academy Awards that year, losing them to 'Thelma and Louise's screenplay, and the director of 'Silence of the Lambs'. It's completely arguable that those Oscars were well-deserved for such titles, but I think this movie got a fair share of snubbery all the same.
The story is basically about a kid named Tre (Desi Arnez Hines II, but eventually Cuba Gooding Jr.) who gets in trouble at school and, as a result, goes to live with his father, Furious (Lawrence Fishburne), in South Central L.A. There, his father teaches him about what it is to be a responsible man, especially growing up in such a bad neighborhood. Meanwhile, Tre hangs out with his best friends; two brothers who I always took as being there to play Tre's overall conscience. It's interesting to think about. Ricky (Morris Chestnut) is a successful student, applying to go to college to play football, and essentially plays the "light side" of things, inspiring Tre to succeed in life as well. However, Dough Boy (Ice Cube), is much more of a bad influence, being the bad seed, not afraid to start some shit, and just an all-around tough guy with a smart mouth. Essentially, he's playing the "dark side" of things, and there to show us the seemingly standard flow of things in the hood.
If you remember 'Straight Outta Compton', there's a scene where Ice Cube says to Eazy E that he called 'Boyz n the Hood' an "after school special". In so many ways, it can be seen as just that, but an R-rated one that isn't afraid to show a few things in order to grasp your attention. Much like something like 'Detroit' was last year, at the time of this title's release, it was kind of a big eye-opener for people. It had impact enough that John Singleton, at the time he received his nominations, was both the youngest person and, more importantly, the first black man to be nominated for the Best Director award. So it was a good step in the right direction, but I also brought up snubbery, so let's get into that.
Mostly, it's in the performances. Cuba Gooding Jr. does do a great job here in what I'd probably consider his break through role. He does a good job at tugging on the heartstrings when the time is right. But it doesn't stop at him. Lawrence Fishburne was a very likable character here, and he played the role of a concerned and relatable father very well. Ice Cube and Morris Chestnut are both great as well. I'm not too sure if I'd land on "Oscar-worthy", but they're both very convincing in their roles - especially Ice Cube, who was all too familiar with the hood, himself. Hell, he helped form a whole rap group around it!
This isn't a recommendation for just anyone and everyone though. This is kind of just one of those titles I think doesn't get enough attention. Perhaps its a bit dated, but the issues expressed within this movie haven't completely gone away either, so in a roundabout way, there's a timelessness to it. Or, if you like, you can watch it as something historical, covering a time in the late 80s and early 90s. Either way, it's a solid title.