Open main menu

Boyz n the Hood is a 1991 American teen hood drama film written and directed by John Singleton in his directorial debut, and starring Ice Cube, Cuba Gooding Jr., Morris Chestnut, Laurence Fishburne, Nia Long, Regina King and Angela Bassett. This film was the acting debut for both Ice Cube and Morris Chestnut.

Boyz n the Hood
Boyz n the hood poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJohn Singleton
Produced bySteve Nicolaides
Written byJohn Singleton
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
Budget$6.5 million[1]
Box office$57.5 million (North America)[1]

Boyz n the Hood was filmed in (the-then district of) South Central Los Angeles, California, from October 1 to November 28, 1990, and was released cinematically in the United States on July 12, 1991. It was nominated for both Best Director and Best Original Screenplay during the 64th Academy Awards, making Singleton the youngest person ever nominated for Best Director and the first African-American to be nominated for the award.

The film was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1991 Cannes Film Festival.[2] In 2002, the United States Library of Congress deemed the film "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.[3]




Ten-year-old Tre Styles lives with his single mother, Reva, in Inglewood, California. 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 the Crenshaw neighborhood of Hyde Park (which is located in South Central Los Angeles) 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.

In Hyde Park, Tre reunites with his friends, Darrin "Doughboy" Baker, Doughboy's maternal half-brother Ricky, and Chris, their mutual friend. After chatting for a bit, Furious immediately has Tre rake the leaves off the front lawn. That night, Furious tells Tre that he has him work to teach him how to be responsible. That night, Tre hears his father shooting at a burglar who tries to rob the house. Two policemen arrive an hour later, and while the white officer is civil and courteous, the black one is disrespectful towards Furious. The next day, Tre and his friends go out with Chris to the railroad tracks behind Hyde Park Boulevard where he shows them 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 spends father/son bonding time with Tre, taking him fishing by the seaside and tells the boy more about his life prior to having him, including his military experience in the Vietnam War, in hopes of making his son proud of him. He concludes his story 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 in Hyde Park for shoplifting (Doughboy had said earlier on that they were going to the store, but had no money), while Ricky and Tre look on.


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, but their relationship is somehow deteriorating over Tre's desire to have sex, while Brandi, a devout Catholic who attends an Catholic all girls school, wishes to wait until after marriage.

Ricky hopes to win a scholarship from USC. After a visit from a recruiter, a mildly embarrassing experience for Ricky due to his unkempt home and his brother's rudeness, he is informed that he must score a 700 or higher on the SATs in order to qualify. Ricky and Tre take the test on the same day. Afterwards, they go to see Furious at his office to unwind. Furious takes Tre and Ricky to Compton, California 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. While Tre talks about leaving Los Angeles, he and Ricky are 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, knowing he can't do anything. Distraught, Tre goes to Brandi's house, where he finally 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, killing him. Doughboy and his gang, who had sensed that Tre and Ricky were in trouble, catch up with them, but are too late. Devastated and helpless, the 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 he wanted.

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. However, Brandi and Furious catch Tre sneaking out of his bedroom window 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. They both look at each other without saying a word, and Furious retreats into his bedroom. 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, now understanding Tre's reasons for leaving the gang. Doughboy knows that he will soon 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. He sorrowfully says that he has no family left now after Ricky's death and Brenda's disownment of him, but is embraced by Tre, who says to Doughboy that he has a brother in him.

The epilogue reveals that Doughboy saw Ricky buried the next day and was murdered himself two weeks later. Tre and Brandi resume their relationship, and go on to attend Morehouse and Spelman colleges in Atlanta, respectively.



Singleton wrote the film based around his life growing up and events that either happened to him, or people he knew.[4] 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 wrote was a movie to be titled Summer of 84, which would later evolve into Boyz n the Hood.[4] 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."[5]

The role of Doughboy was specifically written for Ice Cube whom Singleton met while working as an intern at The Arsenio Hall Show.[4] Singleton claims that the other two leads, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Morris Chestnut, were cast simply because they were the first ones who showed up to the casting auditions.[4] Despite having a member of one of the best-selling rap groups, N.W.A, this, at least according to Singleton, was not a selling point to the studio who were not aware of them.[4] Rather, Singleton opined, the studio greenlit the film in the interest of making a film similar to the Spike Lee film Do the Right Thing. 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.[5]

Singleton has a cameo in the finished movie - he plays the postman handing over some mail to Brenda as Doughboy and Ricky are having a scuffle in the front yard. Singleton was in uniform and had on a cap and sunglasses along with a bag of letters.


Among the influences on the film was the 1986 Rob Reiner 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. [4]

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 8.4/10. 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."[6] At Metacritic, the film received an average score of 76 out of 100 based on 18 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews".[7]

Cultural impactEdit

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's song, "Check Yo Self", also references the film, stating "I make dough but don't call me Dough Boy / This ain't no fucking motion picture".

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.

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.

In Vince Staples's hit song 'Norf Norf' (2016), Staples references the scene where Ricky gets shot in the back, letting the listener know how much of an impact the movie had on his upbringing.

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, Boyz n the Hood

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[8]

  • 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


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


  1. ^ a b "Boyz N the Hood". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 19, 2015.
  2. ^ "Boyz n the Hood". Cannes Film Festival. Retrieved August 9, 2009.
  3. ^ "Complete National Film Registry Listing". National Film Preservation Board. Library of Congress. Retrieved July 17, 2009.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ a b 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.
  6. ^ "Boyz n the Hood (1991)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved July 19, 2018.
  7. ^ "Boyz n the Hood Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved September 11, 2011.
  8. ^ "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