Baby Boy (film)
Promotional film poster
|Directed by||John Singleton|
|Produced by||John Singleton|
|Written by||John Singleton|
Taraji P. Henson
|Music by||David Arnold|
|Edited by||Bruce Cannon|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Running time||129 minutes|
|Box office||$29,381,649 (USA) |
Baby Boy is a 2001 American coming-of-age urban comedy-drama film written, produced, and directed by John Singleton. The film follows bicycle mechanic Joseph "Jody" Summers as he lives and learns in his everyday life in the hood of Los Angeles. It represented the film debut of Taraji P. Henson R&B singer Tyrese Gibson. Baby Boy was filmed in 2000 and released in summer 2001. Tyrese Gibson and Taraji P. Henson later starred in the film Four Brothers.
A 20 year-old man named Jody (Tyrese Gibson) lives with his mother Juanita (Adrienne-Joi Johnson), in South Central Los Angeles. He spends most of his time with his unemployed best friend Sweetpea (Omar Gooding), and does not seem interested in becoming a responsible adult. However, he is forced to mature as a result of an ex-con named Melvin (Ving Rhames), who moves into their home. Another factor is his children—a son Joseph "JoJo" Summers Jr. with his girlfriend of seven years,19 year old Yvette (Taraji P. Henson) and a daughter with a girl that he cheated on Yvette with 18 year old Peanut, who also lives with her mother.
At the beginning of the movie Yvette has an abortion that Jody forced her to have. Yvette constantly asks Jody if he will ever come live with her and their son, but Jody avoids the subject and comes and goes as he pleases. Jody also continues seeing and having sex with other women, including Peanut. This becomes an issue between him and Yvette as well, especially since Yvette and Peanut do not get along. When she discovers his cheating they get in a heated argument which results to Jody slapping Yvette in the face. After this, Yvette changes the locks on the door. This infuriates Jody and they get into an argument, which JoJo witnesses.
Eventually, Yvette's gangster ex-boyfriend Rodney (Snoop Dogg) is released from San Quentin State Prison, and returns to the neighborhood to move in with Yvette, much to her dismay. Rodney doesn't care for Yvette and Jody's son and wants to impregnate Yvette himself. Rodney attempts to rape Yvette in front of her son, but reconsiders after being guilted by Yvette and JoJo. Despite their previous differences, Yvette begins to realize she is still in love with Jody.
For the next couple of days Yvette lives in fear and disgust of Rodney being there and misses Jody. Rodney, who realizes this, steals the money from her wallet and takes off in her car to go and find Jody. Rodney tries to kill Jody in a drive-by shooting; however, he is unsuccessful. After this Yvette kicks Rodney and his friends out of her apartment. Eventually, after some more bickering, Yvette and Jody reconcile at a party at Sweetpea's house, and Yvette admits to Jody that Rodney attempted to rape her.
Jody and Sweetpea confront Rodney, and as he attempts to escape, Jody shoots him in the back of the knees. Sweetpea urges Jody to kill Rodney, but he refuses, at which point Sweetpea kills Rodney himself. Feeling guilty for Rodney's death, Jody prepares to commit suicide by shooting himself in the head, but Melvin catches him and takes the gun. After reflecting on the death of Rodney and how he put Yvette and his son in danger by not being around consistently, Jody finally moves out of his mom's house and in with Yvette.
Jody has now become a mature man, realizing that his mom's relationship with Melvin is a stable one and that he has a family of his own that he needs to protect and take care of. Afterwards, Jody and Yvette get married and she becomes pregnant again. Sweetpea decides to turn over a new life and gets baptized, putting his old life as a thug behind him.
- Tyrese Gibson as Joseph "Jody" Summers, an unemployed bike mechanic who fathers two children. At one point, he has affairs with Peanut, the mother of his baby daughter, while dating Yvette.
- Omar Gooding as Sweetpea, Jody's best friend who is known for his somehow crazy antics.
- Taraji P. Henson as Yvette, Jody's older girlfriend and later wife, and the mother of his son and unborn child.
- Snoop Dogg as Rodney, Yvette's ex-boyfriend, who was recently released from prison and has a strong dislike towards Jody.
- Ving Rhames as Melvin, Juanita's ex-con boyfriend, who Jody has a disdain for.
- Adrienne-Joi Johnson as Juanita, Jody's mother.
- Elmo Tawnie as Tippy Top, second cousin on Jimmy John's side.
- Mo'Nique as Patrice, Juanita's best friend.
- Angell Conwell as Kim, Sweetpea's girlfriend.
- Tamara LaSeon Bass as Peanut, the mother of Jody's baby daughter, who does not get along with Yvette.
- Tawny Dahl as Pandora, Yvette's co-worker and a pursuer of Jody.
- Tracey Cherelle Jones as Sharika, Yvette's best friend.
- Candy Ann Brown as Ms. Herron, Peanut's mother who does not like Jody.
- Kaylan Bolton and Kylan Bolton as Joseph "Jo Jo" Summers Jr, Jody's oldest child and son with Yvette.
- Olan Thompson as Chris, Sharika's boyfriend of 3 years, who she occasionally gets into physical altercations with.
- Alexsandra Wright, as the woman inside
- The lead role was originally written for Tupac Shakur in 1996, but when he died, production for the film was put on hold. Jody listens to many of Shakur's songs and has a picture of him on his wall.
- Singleton originally wrote the role of Rodney for Ice Cube.
Release and reception
In its opening weekend, the film grossed $8,606,403 in 1,533 theaters in the United States, averaging $5,614 per venue, and ranking number 5 at the box office. It grossed a total of $28,734,552 domestically and $647,097 overseas (France, Australia, United Kingdom and Spain), totaling about $29,381,649 worldwide. The film had a budget of $16 million and is rated R for its strong sexuality, profane language, violence and some drug use, and is ranked 64 at the box office in drama-summer for that year (2001).
The film received generally positive feedback from critics. Roger Ebert gave the film 3½ stars out of 4 saying, "Baby Boy is a bold criticism of young black men who carelessly father babies, live off their mothers and don't even think of looking for work. It is also a criticism of the society that pushes them into that niche. There has never been a movie with this angle on the African-American experience" and "[it] doesn't fall back on easy liberal finger-pointing. There are no white people in this movie, no simplistic blaming of others; the adults in Jody's life blame him for his own troubles, and they should." Kenneth Turan, film critic for the Los Angeles Times, praised the film for being "...Compelling.... heartfelt and personal..." Rotten Tomatoes gives Baby Boy a critic score of "Fresh" with a 71% approval rating; "Preachy and repetitive in parts, Baby Boy still manages to exude authenticity, thanks to its competent cast."
Awards and recognition
Baby Boy received nominations for the Black Reel and Image Awards. The cast won a special award at the Locarno International Film Festival in 2001. The film was also in the running for the Golden Leopard, the festival's top prize.
- Box Office Mojo
- The Numbers box office data
- "Baby Boy (2001)". UGO Entertainment. AllMoviePortal.com. Retrieved 16 April 2012.
- "Baby Boy (2002)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 16 April 2012.
- Baby Boy at AllMovie
- Baby Boy (2001) FILM REVIEW Be a Man? But Where Are the Role Models? New York Times, June 27, 2001
- Roger Ebert review Chicago Sun-Times. June 27, 2001.
- Rotten Tomatoes