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Boyz n the Hood is a 1991 American teen[2] hood drama film written and directed by John Singleton in his directorial debut, and stars Ice Cube, Cuba Gooding Jr., Morris Chestnut, Larry Fishburne, Nia Long, Regina King, and Angela Bassett. Boyz n the Hood follows Tre Styles (Gooding), who is sent to live with his father Furious Styles (Fishburne) in South Central Los Angeles, surrounded by the neighborhood's booming gang culture.

Boyz n the Hood
Boyz n the hood poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJohn Singleton
Produced bySteve Nicolaides
Written byJohn Singleton
Starring
Music byStanley Clarke
CinematographyCharles Mills
Edited byBruce Cannon
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • July 2, 1991 (1991-07-02) (Los Angeles)
  • July 12, 1991 (1991-07-12) (United States)
Running time
112 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$6.5 million[1]
Box office$57.5 million (North America)[1]

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 to any suitor. 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 is considered the breakout roles for Ice Cube, Gooding, and Nia Long.

Boyz n the Hood premiered in Los Angeles on July 2, 1991, and was theatrically released in the United States on July 12, 1991. Upon release, the film became a critical and commercial success, with praise being aimed at the film's emotional weight, acting, and writing. It grossed $57.5 million in North America during its theatrical run, 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.[3] 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.[4]

Contents

PlotEdit

1984Edit

Ten-year-old Tre Styles lives with his single mother, Reva, in Inglewood. 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. 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. A white officer is civil and courteous, while the black officer is disrespectful towards Furious.

The next day, Tre and his friends go out to railroad tracks to view a dead body. While there, a group of older boys in a Rollin 60's Neighborhood Crips gang steal Ricky's football and Doughboy tries to retrieve it, but is defeated. While the older boys walk away, one of them gives Ricky his ball back. Later in the day, Furious goes fishing with Tre, informing him of his military experience in the Vietnam War, eventually concluding by advising Tre to never join the army, stating that a black man has no place in the army. When returning home, they see Doughboy and Chris being arrested for shoplifting.

1991Edit

At a barbecue, Doughboy is now a Crip gang member and 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, also Crip members. Ricky, now a star running back for Crenshaw High School, lives with his single mother Brenda, girlfriend Shanice, and their infant son. Tre has grown into a mature and responsible teenager, works at a clothes 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 who attends a Catholic all girls school, wishes to wait until after marriage.

Ricky hopes to win a scholarship from University of Southern California. After a visit from a recruiter, he is informed that he must score at least a 700 on the SATs in order to qualify. Ricky and Tre take the test together, and 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 provoked by Ferris, a member of the Crenshaw Mafia Gangsters. In response, Doughboy brandishes his handgun, leading to a brief argument between the two gangs. When the two gangs are finished arguing, Ferris fires his own gun in the air, causing everyone to leave. Tre leaves with Ricky and notes his desire to leave Los Angeles, but is eventually pulled over by the police. The cop is exactly the same one who was disrespectful towards his father seven years earlier. He intimidates and threatens Tre with his gun, who visits Brandi's house, and breaks down. After she consoles him, they have sex for the first time.

The following day, Ricky has a fight with Doughboy. While Ricky and Tre walk to a nearby store, they see Ferris and his gang driving around the neighborhood and in an attempt to avoid them, the pair cut through back alleyways and split up. As Tre turns back to Ricky, Ferris' car pulls up. Ricky turns to run but one of Ferris' men shoots Ricky in the leg with a shotgun. A second shot hits Ricky in the back through the chest, effectively killing him. Doughboy, Chris, Dooky, and Monster catch up with Tre after sensing danger but arrive too late by mere seconds. 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; just enough to qualify for the scholarship.

The remaining boys vow vengeance on Ferris and his crew. 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. That night, as the gang drives across the city, 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. Meanwhile, Doughboy finds Ferris' gang at a local fast-food outlet, and Monster opens fire on them with an AK-47, killing one and wounding the other two. Doughboy gets out and kills the other wounded gang member and executes Ferris, avenging Ricky's death.

The next day, Doughboy visits Tre, and understands his reasons for leaving. Doughboy knows that he will sooner or later face retaliation for Ferris' death, and accepts the consequences of his crime-ridden lifestyle. He plaintively questions why America doesn't care about the life in the ghetto, and sorrowfully notes he has no family after Ricky's death and Brenda's disownment of him. Tre embraces him, and says to Doughboy he has a brother in him.

The epilogue reveals that Doughboy saw Ricky buried the next day and was murdered two weeks later. Tre and Brandi then attend Morehouse and Spelman colleges in Atlanta, respectively.

CastEdit

ProductionEdit

Singleton wrote the film based on his own life and that of people he knew.[6] 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.[6] 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.[6]

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."[2] 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.[6] Singleton also noted the studio were unaware of Ice Cube's standing as a member of rap group N.W.A.[6] Singleton claims Gooding and Chestnut were cast because they were the first ones who showed up to auditions,[6] 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.[7]

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 every since.”[2]

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.[2] 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 legacyEdit

Critical responseEdit

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."[8] At Metacritic, the film received an average score of 76 out of 100 based on 18 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews".[9]

Cultural impactEdit

It kickstarted the acting careers of Cuba Gooding Jr, Ice Cube, and Nia Long, who were all relatively unknown before it. It was Angela Bassett's first significant film role.[2]

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 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 cultureEdit

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 accoladesEdit

Academy Awards: 1992
  • Nominee, Best Director, John Singleton
  • Nominee, Best Original Screenplay, John Singleton

BMI Film Music Award: 1992

Image Award: 1993

  • Winner, Outstanding Motion Picture

MTV Movie Award: 1992

  • Nominee, Best Movie, Boyz n the Hood
  • Winner, Best New Filmmaker, John Singleton

National Film Preservation Board, USA: 2002

  • National Film Registry, Boyz n the Hood

New York Film Critics Circle Award: 1991

  • Winner, Best New Director, John Singleton

Political Film Society, USA: 1992

  • Winner, PFS Award, Peace
  • Nominee, PFS Award, Exposé
  • Nominee, PFS Award, Human Rights

Writers Guild of America, USA: 1992

  • Nominee, WGA Award (Screen), Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, John Singleton

Young Artist Awards: 1992[10]

  • Winner, Young Artist Award, Outstanding Young Ensemble Cast in a Motion Picture

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

SoundtrackEdit

Year Album Peak chart positions Certifications
U.S. U.S. R&B
1991 Boyz n the Hood 12 1

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "Boyz N the Hood". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 19, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e Smith, Nigel M (June 13, 2016). "John Singleton reflects on Boyz N the Hood: 'I didn't know anything'". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media. Retrieved April 4, 2017.
  3. ^ "Boyz n the Hood". Cannes Film Festival. Retrieved August 9, 2009.
  4. ^ "Complete National Film Registry Listing". National Film Preservation Board. Library of Congress. Retrieved July 17, 2009.
  5. ^ "'Boyz n the Hood' Dirty Cop Actor Jessie Lawrence Ferguson Dead at 76". TMZ. April 27, 2019. Retrieved April 29, 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Jones, Will (November 1, 2016). "Talking 'Boyz N the Hood' with Its Director John Singleton". Vice UK. Vice Media. Retrieved April 4, 2017.
  7. ^ "John Singleton Interview Part 1 of 3 - TelevisionAcademy.com/Interviews". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation. 24 September 2016. Retrieved 6 May 2019.
  8. ^ "Boyz n the Hood (1991)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved July 9, 2019.
  9. ^ "Boyz n the Hood Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved September 11, 2011.
  10. ^ "Thirteenth Annual Youth in Film Awards: 1990–1991". Young Artist Awards. Archived from the original on April 3, 2011. Retrieved October 6, 2010.

External linksEdit