I really wanted everyone to watch the 30 for 30 on Bo Jackson because he is the greatest athlete of all time. No one could play at that kind of elite level like Jackson and it probably would have been watched until Joe reared his head for the first time of the round to vindictively veto this good film because I vetoed his first choice. Yeah, I still refuse to purchase Amazon Prime for a documentary about soccer - unless it's about Pele. No ragrets!
I had a feeling Joe would do that so I had another 30 for 30 in mind over the 2003 Bartman game. Since he couldn't veto again, I thought I was in the clear and then Bryan surprisingly appears to spend his veto. His reasoning was that he's seen some good movies and wanted to keep that going. Mind you, this comes from the guy who picked a movie worse than Drinking Buddies and said he would never veto. I think it is because my second pick was over the Cubs. That didn't bother me either but I thought it was great when he stated his displeasure of it (score!). I almost picked Four Days in October so Phil could veto but I think everyone had enough of the veto power and I didn't want to read Bobby argue nonsense about Mark "I had one moment and a bunch of errors" Bellhorn. Frickin' Bellhorn.
Then I chose Boyz N the Hood. I saw this awhile ago but needed a refresher and was thrilled Netflix had it. I don't particularly pay attention to directors unless its Whedon, Spielberg, Bay, Bruckheimer, Burton, and Lucas. Outside of them, it matters little to me. "Can you make a good film?" is the only requirement directors have for me. In John Singleton's case, he made a cult classic.
Three years ago NPR did a story on "Morning Edition" on Boyz N the Hood and John Ridley interviewed Singleton about the film. Singleton stated that while he loved the films from the 80s, they did not look like him or his situation. So what Singleton, who was taught directing by Francis Ford Coppola and was 22 years old, made was a film about a group of black friends growing up South Central Los Angeles. What came from it, well, not even Singleton could foretell.
The importance of Boyz N the Hood is opens up the eyes of suburbia, white America to life in of hoodlem, black America. Gang violence, crack heads, single motherhood were all out of surburbia, white America's mainstream in 1991. Watching the film nowadays, there is nothing shocking about it. If a young teen watched Boyz N the Hood today, he/she would think he watched everyday life. For me, on the other hand, growing up in Hicktown, Indiana, this was pretty surreal. I remember watching it for the first time in 1996 and I couldn't believe what I saw. High school students shooting each other because one felt disrespected? For real? For a 14 year old in Hicktown, Indiana, that question was on my mind.
Mostly, the movie had great acting. This film put Cuba Gooding, Jr., on the map. He was sensational. He owned the scene when was confronted by the black cop and returned to Brandi's house. His frustration with his inability to fight with the police glowed. The viewer could sense his anger in that scene. Another great part was when he felt compelled to lie to his father Furious about the girl he did not bang. Viewer had no clue that it was a lie until the next scene when Ricky gets in the blue slugbug.
Next was Laurence Fishburne who absolutely nailed the part of Furious Styles. He wanted to be the father apparently he never had and/or what Doughboy, Ricky, or Chris never had. Was he a rough father? Absolutely but it was necessary. Furious knew what he had to do and he did it but did so in a positive way. You know Tre wanted to please Furious and that was evident when Tre returns home after leaving the car. He walks into the house, Furious sees him, Tre walks closer, Furious turns around into his room and slams the door. No words in that scene, just emotion of disappointment.
Ice Cube playing Doughboy, or Darren, was pretty fantastic. He nailed the hustler role probably because he came from Compton and rapped about it in the N.W.A. and his early recordings. He understood that role and life but more importantly than all of that was his ability to capture it on screen. This was Ice Cube's first acting role and there was no trace of it. I was able to put myself in Doughboy's shoes when he shot those two other guys. They took his brother away from him. When that happens, you want to pull the trigger and in this case he did. Good stuff from Ice Cube.
Angela Basset's role was minor. She was Reva Styles, Tre's mother. She wanted to play a role in his life but she ultimately chose her career over her son. Yes, they had an agreement, which Tre violated, but she could have been there for him. What we don't see is the role she played from 1984 - 1991. We are led to believe, however, that she was absent from Tre's rearing. Basset is a fantastic actress and her best role is when she played Tina Turner in What's Love Got to Do with It?, which oddly enough Laurence Fishburne plays Ike. Definitely worth a view.
The aspect that bugged me was what I call the go betweens - when someone talks at one location and then the viewer sees another person saying something else in a different location but apparently they are saying it at the same time. For instance when Doughboy was talking to the crew about something I forget and Tre was talking to Brandi about their relationship, that sequence of go betweens was choppy and bad. It made me squirm and I couldn't deal with that. In its defense, it was 1989/1990 and that sequence can be fine tuned today but regardless, it annoyed me.
I also didn't appreciate the misogynistic nature of Doughboy. Cube did fine playing it but it played up to the stereotype that black men are stupid sexists. Doughboy had a different upbringing than his half brother Ricky and maybe he felt slighted by his mother for that but that is no reason to consistently tell a woman those things.
All in all, it was a raw story that opened up the eyes of white America. This film came out before the O.J. trial, before the Rodney King incident, and before gangster rap emerged into mainstream radio. Boyz N the Hood was really good.