Sunday school with cursing.


Cliffnotes review:
Sunday school with cursing.

Rated (R)
This film goes to: 6
Directed by: John Singleton
Starring: Cuba Gooding Jr., Ice Cube, Laurence Fishburn, Morris Chestnut
Written by: John Singleton
107 Minutes

John Singleton wants to be a priest. I don't know this for a fact, mind you, but his films feature much pontification about the way the world IS versus the way it SHOULD be delivered in a feverous, but often unfocused pitch. "Boys N the Hood" offers little diversion from this technique and Singleton tosses in a wide range of social commentary on issues that plague the life of inner-city youth. From gender roles to "joining the white man's army", they are all present and accounted for. Unfortunately, few are fully fleshed out and the result is a film that feels incomplete even as it breaks ground as one of first to offer a sympathetic depiction of displaced youth and ghetto issues without resorting to stereotyping.

This is definitely a guy film (as the title suggests) and not much time is spent with the ladies in Singleton's look at the lives of Tre (the hard-working schoolboy, somewhat annoyingly portrayed by Cuba Gooding Jr.), Doughboy (the unloved gang-banger, sympathetically played by Ice Cube) and Ricky (the not-too-bright star-athlete, depicted handily by Morris Chestnut) as they grow up in less-than-hospitable central L.A. Laurence Fishburn does some excellent work as Tre's unsubtly named father, Furious, and fills in as neighborhood "mentor" whenever another theme needs to be addressed but not explored. (Interestingly enough, Fishburn is briefly paired with Angela Bassett with whom he would later tear up the screen as Ike to her Tina Turner in "What's Love Got to Do with It".) As you can imagine, when the worlds of Tre, Ricky and Doughboy collide, all hell is certain to break loose.

Though entertaining at times, Singleton's look at ghetto life simply tries too hard to touch on too many themes and subsequently suffers. Perhaps the material would have been better handled as part of a series (ala Kieslowski's "Blue", "White" and "Red") or, god forbid, even on television. At the very least, "Boys N the Hood" would have benefited from a lighter thematic touch and a more solidly developed thematic focus. This being said, "Hood" is still definitely worth a peek… just don't expect a cinematic masterpiece to unfold before you.

DVD Details:
The "Boys N the Hood" DVD features a two-sided disc with both wide (anamorphic 1.85:1 pan and scan aspect ratio) and provides English, Spanish and French Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtracks. English, Spanish and French subtitles are also available.

Unfortunately, virtually no "special" material is included (unless one is inclined to believe that trailers for Cuba Gooding Jr.'s other work is "special"). Nonetheless, "Jerry Maguire" and "As Good as It Gets" previews are both included along with the original "Boys N the Hood" trailer. The film deserved to be packaged with a Director's commentary (at the very least), as I am certain that there would be a plethora of information regarding the production and trials and tribulations therein that fans would welcome.

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Critter Critique: This week's review brought to you by Gavin.
Fatal Attraction:  Yet another example of Hollywood schlock served up in a double boiler. Though Fatal Attraction starts innocently enough, I was shocked and appalled to witness the on-screen atrocity put forth as entertainment in act three. Trust me, this one is not fit for man nor beast. Ginger Pants