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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

'Boyz n the Hood': John Singleton's Landmark Coming-of-Age Urban Crime Drama

Movie poster for the 1991 film Boyz n the Hood

Boyz n the Hood (1991) is a searing and unforgettable urban crime drama starring Cuba Gooding Jr. as Tre Styles, a head-strong youth residing in South Central Los Angeles circa 1990. The storyline follows Tre's maturation from an impressionable 10-year-old living with his mother Reva (Angela Bassett), to a burgeoning adult residing with his father Jason "Furious" Styles (Laurence Fishburne) 6 years later.

After a schoolyard incident compels Reva to send Tre from middle-class Inglewood to live with his father in Crenshaw, a neighborhood in South Central, Tre reunites with childhood friends while adjusting to his father's authoritarian style. Shifting forward in time, the narrative finds teenage Tre consorting with Doughboy (Ice Cube), Ricky (Morris Chestnut) and Chris (Regi Green) while dreaming of attending college with his girlfriend Brandi (Nia Long). Day-to-day life in South Central offers a multitude of hazards, however, with Doughboy's affiliation with the Crips street gang ultimately bearing dire consequences upon his friends and family.

Written and directed by John Singleton (Poetic Justice, Higher Learning) in his feature film debut, Boyz n the Hood is an arresting human drama wrought with sincerity and striking morality. Across the board the performances are stunningly earnest, with Gooding Jr. at the heart of an impressive ensemble—the actors bringing a fervid and entirely genuine tone to fore. Forceful in delivery and remarkable in emotional resonance, it's an indelible depiction of marginalized lives and the often brutal reality of gang culture in modern (1990's) America.


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