Boyz n the Hood is a 1991 American coming-of-age hood crime drama film written and directed by John Singleton in his feature directorial debut.[2] It stars Cuba Gooding Jr., Ice Cube, Nia Long, Morris Chestnut, Tyra Ferrell, Laurence Fishburne, 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. The film's title is a reference to the 1987 Eazy-E rap song of the same name, written by Ice Cube.

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

Singleton initially developed the film as a requirement for his 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 features breakout roles for Ice Cube, Gooding Jr., Chestnut, and Long.

Boyz n the Hood was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1991 Cannes Film Festival.[3] It 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, grossing $57.5 million in North America and earning nominations for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay at the 64th Academy Awards. Singleton became the youngest person and the first African American to be nominated for Best Director. 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][5]

Plot edit

In 1984, ten-year-old Jason "Tre" Styles III lives with his single mother, Reva Devereaux, in Inglewood, California. After Tre gets into a fight at school, his teacher calls Reva and says that although Tre is intelligent, he is immature and lacks respect. Frightened about Tre's future, Reva sends him to live in the Crenshaw neighborhood of South Central with his father, Jason "Furious" Styles Jr., from whom she hopes Tre will learn life lessons. Furious is strict and assigns Tre chores, but he is also a caring and attentive father. In Crenshaw, Tre reunites with his childhood friends Darrin "Doughboy" Baker, Doughboy's half-brother Ricky, and their friend Chris. That night, Tre hears Furious shooting at a burglar. Furious calls the LAPD, and two officers arrive an hour later. The white officer is civil and professional, while the black officer is hostile and demonstrates self-hatred. The next day, Tre and Furious return from a fishing trip to see Doughboy and Chris being arrested for theft.

Seven years later, a welcome home party is held for Doughboy, now a Rollin 60s Crips member, following his recent release from prison hoping to stay out. At the party are Chris, now paraplegic due to a gunshot wound, and new friends and fellow Crip members Dookie and Monster. Ricky is now a star running back at Crenshaw High School who hopes to earn a university scholarship. He lives with his mother Brenda, girlfriend Shanice, and their toddler son. A USC recruiter visits him and informs him he must score a 700 on the SAT to qualify. Meanwhile, Tre has grown into a mature and responsible teenager who hopes to attend college with his girlfriend, Brandi. Their relationship is troubled over Tre's desire to have sex, while Brandi, a traditional Catholic, wants to wait until after marriage.

Later, during a street gathering on Crenshaw Blvd, Ricky is provoked by Ferris, a Crenshaw Mafia Bloods member. Everybody comes to Ricky's defense, before Doughboy confronts Ferris and brandishes his handgun, leading to an argument between the gangs. Cooler heads prevail until Ferris fires an automatic Mac-10 in the air, with everybody scattering from the area.

After they leave, Tre and Ricky are pulled over by an LAPD patrol; the lead officer, Coffey, is the black officer who responded to the burglary years earlier. Coffey holds his gun at Tre's throat, threatening him. Distraught, Tre goes to Brandi's house, where he has a breakdown. After she comforts him, they have sex for the first time.

The next afternoon, Ricky has a fight with Doughboy, with Brenda taking Ricky's side, and berating Doughboy. Afterward, Brenda asks Ricky to run an errand and Tre accompanies him to a nearby drugstore. After they depart, a letter is delivered with Ricky's SAT results. After leaving the store, Ricky and Tre see Ferris and the Bloods driving around and cut through back alleys to avoid them before splitting up. As they walk in separate directions, the Bloods drive close to Ricky and one of them fatally guns him down. Doughboy, who realized Tre and Ricky were in trouble when he saw the car circling the block, is distraught over Ricky's death. Doughboy helps Tre carry Ricky's bloodied corpse home. After feeling devastated, Brenda and Shanice break into tears, with the women blaming Doughboy for causing the shooting, while he tries to unsuccessfully comfort both of them. Later, Brenda sobs over Ricky's test results - Ricky scored a 710, enough to qualify for the scholarship he sought.

Angered, the remaining boys vow vengeance on the Bloods. Furious finds Tre preparing to take his gun but seemingly convinces him to abandon his plans for revenge. Moments later, Brandi and Furious catch Tre sneaking out to join Doughboy. Later, as the gang drive around the city, Tre asks to be let out of the car and returns home. Doughboy finds the Bloods at a fast-food restaurant. Monster guns the Bloods down as they flee. Doughboy gets out of his car and shoots Ferris and another wounded gang member dead. Later that evening, after coming home, Furious waits for Tre. The two stare at each other with no words exchanged and walk into their bedrooms for the night.

The next morning, Doughboy visits Tre, understanding Tre's reasons for abandoning the gang. Doughboy knows he will face retaliation for killing Ferris and accepts the consequences of his crime-ridden life. He questions why American media "don't know, don't show, or don't care about what's going on in the hood." He says that he has no brothers after Ricky's death, but Tre embraces him, saying he has "still got one brother left."

The epilogue text reveals that Ricky was buried the next day, Doughboy was murdered two weeks later, and Tre later goes to college with Brandi in Atlanta.

Cast edit

Production edit

Singleton wrote the film based on his own life and that of people he knew.[7] 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.[7] 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.[7]

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 written specially for Ice Cube, whom Singleton met while working as an intern at The Arsenio Hall Show.[7] Singleton also noted the studio was unaware of Ice Cube's standing as a member of rap group N.W.A.[7] Singleton claims Gooding and Chestnut were cast because they were the first ones who showed up to auditions,[7] 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.[8]

Long grew up in the area the film depicts and has said, "It was important as a young actor to me that this feels real because I knew what it was like go home from school and hear gunshots at night." Bassett referred to Singleton 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."[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 mailman handing over mail to Brenda as Doughboy and Ricky are having a scuffle in the front yard.

Reception and legacy edit

Critical response edit

Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film an approval rating of 96% based on 69 reviews and an average score of 8.40/10. 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."[9] At Metacritic, the film received an average score of 76 out of 100 based on 20 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews".[10]

Cultural impact edit

Boyz n the Hood launched the acting careers of Gooding, Chestnut, and Long, who were relatively unknown before it. It also launched the Hollywood acting career of Ice Cube and was the first significant film roles for both Angela Bassett and Regina King.[2]

Accolades edit

Award Category Recipient Result
Academy Awards[11] Best Director John Singleton Nominated
Best Screenplay – Written Directly for the Screen Nominated
Awards Circuit Community Awards Best Motion Picture Steve Nicolaides Nominated
Best Director John Singleton Nominated
Best Actor in a Supporting Role Laurence Fishburne Nominated
Best Actress in a Supporting Role Angela Bassett Nominated
Best Original Screenplay John Singleton Nominated
Best Cast Ensemble Jaki Brown Nominated
Best Film Editing Bruce Cannon Nominated
BMI Film & TV Awards Film Music Award Stanley Clarke Won
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards[12] Best Film Nominated
Best Director John Singleton Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Ice Cube Nominated
Laurence Fishburne Nominated
Best Screenplay John Singleton Nominated
Most Promising Actor Ice Cube Won
Cuba Gooding Jr. Nominated
Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards Best Film Nominated
Best Director John Singleton Nominated
Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Movie Nominated
Favorite Movie Actor Ice Cube Nominated
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards[13] New Generation Award John Singleton Won
MTV Movie Awards Best Movie Nominated
Best New Filmmaker John Singleton Won
NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Motion Picture Won
National Board of Review Awards[14] Top Ten Films 7th Place
National Film Preservation Board National Film Registry Inducted
New York Film Critics Circle Awards[15] Best New Director John Singleton Won
Online Film & Television Association Awards[16] Hall of Fame – Motion Picture Won
Political Film Society Awards Exposé Nominated
Human Rights Won
Peace Won
Stockholm International Film Festival Bronze Horse John Singleton Nominated
Writers Guild of America Awards[17] Best Screenplay – Written Directly for the Screen Nominated
Young Artist Awards[18] Outstanding Young Ensemble Cast in a Motion Picture Desi Arnez Hines II, Baha Jackson and Donovan McCrary Won

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

In popular culture edit

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.

Characters and scenes from Boyz n the Hood are parodied in the 1996 crime comedy parody film, Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood.

In the 2015 comedy film Get Hard, Kevin Hart's character Darnell 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.

In the series finale of the show Snowfall, which Singleton co-wrote, co-created, co-executive produced and directed, the main characters Leon and Franklin walk by someone filming a movie on the street that looks very much like a scene with the young boys from John Singleton's Boyz n the Hood as a homage to the creator.

Soundtrack edit

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

See also edit

References edit

  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. 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. Retrieved July 17, 2009.
  5. ^ "Librarian of Congress Adds 25 Films to National Film Registry". Library of Congress. Retrieved 2020-09-18.
  6. ^ "'Boyz n the Hood' Dirty Cop Actor Jessie Lawrence Ferguson Dead at 76". TMZ. April 27, 2019. Retrieved April 29, 2019.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Jones, Will (November 1, 2016). "Talking 'Boyz N the Hood' with Its Director John Singleton". Vice UK. Retrieved April 4, 2017.
  8. ^ "John Singleton Interview Part 1 of 3 -". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation. 24 September 2016. Retrieved 6 May 2019.
  9. ^ "Boyz n the Hood (1991)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 10, 2021.
  10. ^ "Boyz n the Hood Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved September 11, 2011.
  11. ^ "The 64th Academy Awards (1992) Nominees and Winners". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on July 6, 2011. Retrieved October 22, 2011.
  12. ^ "1988-2013 Award Winner Archives". Chicago Film Critics Association. January 2013. Retrieved August 24, 2021.
  13. ^ "The Annual 17th Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards". Los Angeles Film Critics Association. Retrieved August 24, 2021.
  14. ^ "1991 Award Winners". National Board of Review. Retrieved July 5, 2021.
  15. ^ "1991 New York Film Critics Circle Awards". Mubi. Retrieved July 5, 2021.
  16. ^ "Film Hall of Fame Productions". Online Film & Television Association. Retrieved May 15, 2021.
  17. ^ "Awards Winners". Writers Guild of America. Archived from the original on 2012-12-05. Retrieved 2010-06-06.
  18. ^ "Thirteenth Annual Youth in Film Awards: 1990–1991". Young Artist Awards. Archived from the original on April 3, 2011. Retrieved October 6, 2010.
  19. ^ "RIAA Gold & Platinum Searchable Database - Tony! Toni! Tone![permanent dead link]". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved June 17, 2011.

External links edit