A teen is pulled between positive and negative influences in early 90's Watts.
Directed by Allen and Albert Hughes
Starring Tyrin Turner, Larenz Tate, and Jada Pinkett
Review by Jon Kissel
Boyz N the Hood made a huge splash in 1991 as an unflinching coming-of-age story for young Black teens growing up in the Crenshaw neighborhood of Los Angeles. Netting first-time director John Singleton a Best Director Oscar nomination at only 24, the film was a critical and commercial success and spawned a decade-long series of imitators. Twin directors Allen and Albert Hughes might’ve walked into a theater to see Boyz and taken it as a dare. Two years later, they’ll have made Menace II Society at a younger age than Singleton while also moving the harsh world of Boyz a few miles south to Watts for an uglier and more raw film that’s no less affecting. It’s no surprise that the easier to take film of the two was more successful, but twenty years later, the Hughes Brothers’ approach is the riskier and therefore more admirable approach. Boyz is a one-who-got-out story while Menace is an empathy test, and all things being equal, Menace’s degree of difficulty makes it one of the better coming-of-age films of the 90’s, regardless of location.
Spoofs take off on movie trends, while satire pokes fun at the real world. Trey Parker and Matt Stone hilariously combine the two with Team America: World Police, a film that uses the bombastic bravado of Michael Bay action films to skewer multiple varieties of American arrogance in the post-9/11 era. There was a period in my life when this was about as funny as a comedy could possibly be. Self-serious puppets on a film production that isn’t interested in maintaining any kind of cinematic illusion made every scene a riot, but now, when Parker’s and Stone’s status as the ultimate Gen X nihilists has gotten tiresome and a certain kind of shitposter has poisoned their brand, Team America has lost some of its luster. It’s still hilarious as a spoof, but its satire equates being a blowhard with invading and destroying countries. Parker and Stone would discount that as saying this is a puppet movie, the hiding spot of every 4chan asshole making Pepe memes about crematoria.
Joel and Ethan Coen were no strangers to comedy in 1998. The highly versatile directors had already made one crime comedy and another screwball comedy, while peppering jokes and absurdities into films as varied as a gangster epic or a cerebral film about writing. What ties all their films together is a fatalism and a resistance to self-importance, and that constant thematic refrain means that they always find ways to cut characters down who think too much of themselves. It makes them incapable of producing a wholly dramatic film, but it does allow for the possibility of a straight comedy. With The Big Lebowski, the Coen Brothers put aside all their impulses towards seriousness and flex their comedic skills to make one of the funniest movies that’s ever existed. They’ve arguably been the greatest working directors in five different decades, but this is perhaps where all their best characters and lines come from. As well-rounded as Fargo is, there aren’t annual festivals celebrating it. The Big Lebowski is a symphonic masterpiece of timing and imagery that demands consideration as one of the all-time great films while simultaneously scoffing at that kind of praise. Respect must be paid to the best boner joke ever constructed, but all this fuss over a boner joke?
JUST SOME IDIOTS GIVING SURPRISINGLY AVERAGE MOVIE REVIEWS.
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