Boyz N The Hood was released in 1991 and was one of the first contemporary films to deal realistically with the lives of Black Americans. It follows the life of Tre Styles (Cuba Gooding Junior) and shows him growing up in The Hood (South Central L.A.). During the course of the film he has two main friends: Ricky Baker (Morris Chestnut) and Doughboy (Ice Cube). Tre is disciplined and educated by his father Furious Styles (Laurence Fishburne).
The film is set in South City Central L.A. This is a violent and loud community. During the film you can almost constantly hear the low frequency hum of police helicopters overhead. This area is not without a police force, but in the film the police abuse their powers, and are encouraging violence rather than preventing it. It is a poor neighbourhood. The fact that these people are poor is the reason why they resort to crime, drugs and alcohol; as they see these things as a quick and easy solution to their problems.
The film follows its main character Tre Styles through his life growing up in the dangerous environment of The Hood; his young father Furious Styles guides him through life, having grown up in The Hood himself, he knows firsthand the pitfalls that Tre will inevitably face. The plot is not adventurous or groundbreaking, however it is believable and so the film does run along smoothly with the separate storylines all concluded at the end.
The majority of the film is set during a week in summer. Ricky, brushing shoulders with another gang member, sparks off all the dramatic events that follow. Although the events are predictable, the realism of the scenes is still enough for you to sympathise with the characters involved.
The film starts when Tre’s mother sends her disruptive son off to live in South Central with his father. Tre becomes friends with half brothers Doughboy and Ricky. Ricky is their mother’s favourite, because she preferred his absent father to Doughboy’s, as a result of this Doughboy is blamed for everything no matter what the circumstances. When the impulsive and less street smart Ricky gets himself into a mess Doughboy, perhaps convinced by his mother’s preference, sacrifices himself and often physically battles to get his brother out of trouble.
Ice Cube’s performance, as Doughboy, is superb giving the character of Doughboy pride, unexpected intelligence and doomed strength. Sadly the film doesn’t develop this character much, in fact a lot of his scenes just involving him wasting time on the porch drinking malt liquor with his friends. Perhaps the best performance in the film is by Laurence Fishburne, who plays Furious Styles (Tre’s father). The most touching scenes in the film show the relationship between the father and the son.
The director (John Singleton) has produced a film that is quite clearly very close to him, he is putting a message across for people like himself about the evils and dangers of life in the Hood. This is very clear in the speech that Furious makes, he tells Tre and Ricky about the reasons for there being gun shops on every corner in L.A., but none at all in places like Beverly hills, he also explains his theory that the shop owners are encouraging violence. This speech is the director communicating his message to the audience through Furious Styles. The director has succeeded in making a powerful and personal film about his experiences.
The film makes use of rap music. This does make the film somewhat more realistic as this is the kind of music that young people in the Hood would listen to and so succeeds in creating a realistic atmosphere. Although the use of music is fairly prominent in the film the most dramatic scenes have no music whatsoever and there is just silence. This is fairly effective although I think it is a little O.T.T.
Generally I did enjoy the film; there are defiantly scenes that stay with you long after seeing it. Altogether I think that it is a well acted, if depressing film, which has memorable scenes, despite it being overdramatic in places.