Boyz n the Hood
|Boyz n the Hood|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||John Singleton|
|Produced by||Steve Nicolaides|
|Written by||John Singleton|
|Music by||Stanley Clarke|
|Edited by||Bruce Cannon|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Box office||$57.5 million (North America)|
Boyz n the Hood is a 1991 American coming-of-age hood drama film, written and directed by John Singleton in his feature directorial debut. It stars Ice Cube, Cuba Gooding Jr., Morris Chestnut, Laurence Fishburne, Nia Long, Regina King, and Angela Bassett. Boyz n the Hood follows Tre Styles (Gooding Jr.), who is sent to live with his father Furious Styles (Fishburne) in South Central Los Angeles, surrounded by the neighborhood's booming gang culture.
Singleton initially developed the film as a requirement for application to film school in 1986 and sold the script to Columbia Pictures upon graduation in 1990. During writing, he drew inspiration from his own life and from the lives of people he knew and insisted he direct the project. Principal photography began in September 1990 and was filmed on location from October to November 1990. The film is notable for being shot in sequence and features breakout roles for Ice Cube, Gooding Jr., and Nia Long.
Boyz n the Hood premiered in Los Angeles on July 2, 1991, and was theatrically released in the United States ten days later. The film became a critical and commercial success, praised for its emotional weight, acting, and writing. It grossed $57.5 million in North America, and was nominated for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay at the 64th Academy Awards, making Singleton the youngest person and the first African-American to be nominated for Best Director.
The film was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1991 Cannes Film Festival. In 2002, the United States Library of Congress deemed it "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.
Ten-year-old Tre Styles lives with his single mother, Reva, in Inglewood, near Los Angeles International Airport. After Tre gets into a fight at school, his teacher informs Reva that Tre is highly intelligent but has a volatile temper and lacks respect for authority. Worried about Tre's future, Reva sends him to live in Crenshaw with his father, Jason "Furious" Styles, from whom she hopes Tre will learn valuable life lessons and to be able to mature, but assures him he will be permitted to return to her one day.
Tre soon reunites with his friends, Darrin "Doughboy" Baker, Doughboy's maternal half-brother Ricky, and Chris, their mutual friend. Furious immediately has Tre rake the leaves off the front lawn, informing him of work and responsibility. That night, Tre hears his father shooting at a burglar. They wait for the police, with two officers arriving an hour later. The white officer is civil and professional, while the black officer is hostile and displays a contempt of other black men.
The next day, Tre, Ricky, Doughboy and Chris venture to a nearby neighborhood where Chris knows the location of an abandoned human body. While there, a group of adolescents loitering and drinking on a sidewalk are confrontational with the kids about their discovery of the body. One of the adolescents begins to harass Ricky and steals his football. Doughboy tries to retrieve it but is beaten and kicked. While the older boys walk away, one of them gives Ricky his ball back. Later in the day, Furious goes fishing with Tre, telling him of his military experience in the Vietnam War. He advises Tre to never join the Army, arguing that a black man has no place in the Army. While Tre and Furious return home, they see Doughboy and Chris being arrested for shoplifting.
At a barbecue, Doughboy, now a young adult, is celebrating his recent release from jail, along with most of his friends, including Chris, who is now paralyzed and uses a wheelchair as a result of a gunshot wound, and new friends Dooky and Monster. Ricky, who is now a star running back for Crenshaw High School, lives with his single mother Brenda, his girlfriend Shanice, and their infant son. Tre has grown into a mature and responsible teenager, works at a clothing shop at the Fox Hills Mall, and aspires to attend college with his girlfriend, Brandi. His relationship with her is strained over Tre's desire to have sex, while Brandi, a devout Catholic, wishes to wait until after marriage.
Ricky hopes to win a scholarship from the University of Southern California. During a visit from a recruiter, he learns that he must score at least a 700 on the SATs in order to qualify. Ricky and Tre both take the test together, and they visit Furious at work after. Furious takes them to Compton to talk about the dangers of decreasing property values in the black community.
That night, during a local street racing gathering, Ricky is rudely bumped by someone who was recently confrontational with Tre when Tre walked across a street in front of his car. This leads to an argument which results in Doughboy brandishing a handgun. The rival group of attendees are dressed in predominately red clothing, while Doughboy and most of his crew are typically dressed in blue. Doughboy also uses the term "Cuzz" during the confrontation, which could indicate the rivalry is gang motivated.
Moments later, the rival attendee fires a submachine gun into the air from his car, causing everyone to panic and flee. Tre leaves with Ricky and notes his desire to leave Los Angeles, but they are eventually pulled over by the police. The lead officer turns out to be the same one who responded to the burglary call made by Furious seven years earlier. He intimidates and threatens Tre with his gun. Tre visits Brandi's house and breaks down. After she consoles him, they have sex for the first time.
The next day, Ricky and Doughboy get into a fight. While Ricky and Tre walk to a nearby store, they see the rival attendees from the street racing gathering driving around the neighborhood and in an attempt to avoid them, the two cut through the back alleyways and Ricky suggests that they split up. As Tre turns back to Ricky, the rivals' car cuts off Ricky's path to exit the alley. Ricky turns to run but one of the rival groups shoots him twice with a double-barreled shotgun, killing him.
Doughboy, Chris, Dooky, and Monster sense trouble, but catch up with Tre too late. Devastated and helpless, the five surviving boys carry Ricky's lifeless body back home. When Brenda and Shanice see Ricky's corpse, they break down in tears and blame Doughboy, who unsuccessfully tries to comfort them and explain the truth. That night, a distraught Brenda reads Ricky's SAT results, discovering he scored a 710, more than enough to qualify for the scholarship.
The remaining boys vow vengeance on Ricky's assailants. Furious finds Tre preparing to take his .357 Magnum, but convinces Tre to abandon his plans for revenge. Shortly after, Tre sneaks out to join Doughboy, Dooky, and Monster. That night, as the four search the area in Doughboy's convertible for Ricky's assailants, Tre asks to be let out of the car and returns home. He realizes that his father was right to keep him from falling into an endless cycle of violence.
When Tre gets home, Furious is waiting for him, but both retreat into their bedrooms without saying a word. Doughboy, Dooky and Monster find the three perpetrators in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant. Sensing their presence, the trio flees on foot, only for Monster to shoot all three with his AK-47, killing two and wounding their leader, Ferris. Doughboy exits the car and confronts Ferris. After Ferris denies shooting Ricky and insults Doughboy, Doughboy shoots him twice, killing him.
The next day, Doughboy visits Tre and understands his reasons for leaving. Doughboy knows that he will sooner or later face retaliation for the murder he committed the previous evening and accepts the consequences of his crime-ridden lifestyle. He plaintively questions why America does not care about the life in the ghetto, and sorrowfully notes he has no family after Ricky's death and Brenda's disowning of him. Tre embraces him and tells Doughboy he has a brother in him.
- Cuba Gooding Jr. as Jason "Tre" Styles III
- Desi Arnez Hines II as Tre age 10
- Angela Bassett as Reva Styles
- Laurence Fishburne as Jason "Furious" Styles Jr.
- Ice Cube as Darrin "Doughboy" Baker
- Baha Jackson as Doughboy age 10
- Morris Chestnut as Ricky Baker
- Donovan McCrary as Ricky age 10
- Nia Long as Brandi
- Nicole Brown as Brandi age 10
- Tyra Ferrell as Brenda Baker
- Redge Green as Chris
- Kenneth A. Brown as Chris age 10
- John Singleton as the Mailman
- Dedrick D. Gobert as Dooky
- Baldwin C. Sykes as Monster
- Tracey Lewis-Sinclair as Shaniqua
- Alysia Rogers as Shanice
- Regina King as Shalika
- Lexie Bigham as Mad Dog
- Raymond Turner as Ferris
- Lloyd Avery II as Ferris' Triggerman (Knucklehead #2)
- Jessie Lawrence Ferguson as Officer Coffey
Singleton wrote the film based on his own life and that of people he knew. When applying for film school, one of the questions on the application form was to describe "three ideas for films". One of the ideas Singleton composed was titled Summer of 84, which later evolved into Boyz n the Hood. During writing, Singleton was influenced by the 1986 film Stand by Me, which inspired both an early scene where four young boys take a trip to see a dead body, and the closing fade-out of main character Doughboy.
Upon completion, Singleton was protective of his script, insisting that he be the one to direct the project, later explaining at a retrospective screening of the film "I wasn't going to have somebody from Idaho or Encino direct this movie." He sold the script to Columbia Pictures in 1990, who greenlit the film immediately out of interest in making a film similar to the comedy-drama film Do the Right Thing (1989).
The role of Doughboy was specifically written for Ice Cube, whom Singleton met while working as an intern at The Arsenio Hall Show. Singleton also noted the studio was unaware of Ice Cube's standing as a member of rap group N.W.A. Singleton claims Gooding and Chestnut were cast because they were the first ones who showed up to auditions, while Fishburne was cast after Singleton met him on the set of Pee-wee's Playhouse, where Singleton worked as a production assistant and security guard.
Long grew up in the area the film depicts and has said, “It was important as a young actor to me that this feel real, because I knew what it was like go home from school and hear gunshots at night.” Bassett referred to the filmmaker as her “little brother” on set. “I'd been in LA for about three years and I was trying, trying, trying to do films,” she said. “We talked, I auditioned and he gave me a shot. I’ve been waiting to work with him ever since.”
The film was shot in sequence, with Singleton later noting that, as the film goes on, the camera work gets better as Singleton was finding his foothold as a director. He has a cameo in the film, appearing as a postman handing over mail to Brenda as Doughboy and Ricky are having a scuffle in the front yard.
Reception and legacy
Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film an approval rating of 96% based on 69 reviews and an average score of 8.41/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Well-acted and thematically rich, Boyz N the Hood observes urban America with far more depth and compassion than many of the like-minded films its success inspired." At Metacritic, the film received an average score of 76 out of 100 based on 20 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews".
Boyz n the Hood kickstarted the acting careers of Gooding and Long, who were relatively unknown before it. It also launched Ice Cube's career as a Hollywood actor, and was Angela Bassett's first significant film role.
The film has been referenced many times in other works, including works by Lupe Fiasco, Game, and Ice Cube himself. In 1994, British jungle DJ duo Remarc and Lewi produced a song titled "Ricky". The song itself is built up of various sound bites from the movie, particularly the scene where Ricky is murdered. Ice Cube also references the film in the song "Check Yo Self", stating "I make dough but don't call me Dough Boy / This ain't no fucking motion picture". In the 2008 movie Be Kind Rewind, there is a small reference to the scene where Ricky is shot.
On the July 12, 2011, episode of her self-titled talk show, Mo'Nique celebrated the 20th anniversary of the release of Boyz n the Hood with the director John Singleton, Cuba Gooding Jr., Yo-Yo, and Regina King. American rapper Vince Staples references the scene where Ricky gets shot in the back in the song "Norf Norf", informing the listener of the film's impact on his upbringing.
In popular culture
Australian alternative rock band TISM released a live VHS called Boyz n the Hoods in 1992, whose cover artwork is presented as a parody of the film's original VHS box, albeit with a fake disclaimer printed on the cover stating that due to a manufacturing error, the non-existent film was replaced with TISM's concert.
In the 2015 American comedy film Get Hard, Kevin Hart's character is asked to talk about the reason for his fabricated incarceration years earlier. Fumbling for a story, he describes the final scene of Boyz n the Hood, passing it off as his own experience to Will Ferrell's character.
Awards and accolades
|Academy Awards: 1992
BMI Film Music Award: 1992
Image Award: 1993
National Film Preservation Board, USA: 2002
Political Film Society, USA: 1992
Writers Guild of America, USA: 1992
In 2007, Boyz n the Hood was selected as one of the 50 Films To See in your lifetime by Channel 4.
American Film Institute Lists
|Year||Album||Peak chart positions||Certifications|
|1991||Boyz n the Hood||12||1|
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- "Boyz n the Hood". Cannes Film Festival. Retrieved August 9, 2009.
- "Complete National Film Registry Listing". National Film Preservation Board. Retrieved July 17, 2009.
- "'Boyz n the Hood' Dirty Cop Actor Jessie Lawrence Ferguson Dead at 76". TMZ. April 27, 2019. Retrieved April 29, 2019.
- Jones, Will (November 1, 2016). "Talking 'Boyz N the Hood' with Its Director John Singleton". Vice UK. Retrieved April 4, 2017.
- "John Singleton Interview Part 1 of 3 - TelevisionAcademy.com/Interviews". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation. 24 September 2016. Retrieved 6 May 2019.
- "Boyz n the Hood (1991)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 9, 2019.
- "Boyz n the Hood Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved September 11, 2011.
- "Thirteenth Annual Youth in Film Awards: 1990–1991". Young Artist Awards. Archived from the original on April 3, 2011. Retrieved October 6, 2010.
- "RIAA Gold & Platinum Searchable Database - Tony! Toni! Tone![permanent dead link]". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved June 17, 2011.
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