2020 Blind Spot Series: Boyz n the Hood (1991)

While I picked my previous (and following) Blind Spot films out of popularity or Oscar nominations and win, John Singleton's Boyz n the Hood ended on the list because of Dell over Dell on Movies and his love for the film. And because of the many great things I've read over the years, I had very high expectations. Which the film didn't meet but spectacularly exceeded as Singleton's debut is a powerful, raw, and emotional coming-of-age drama.

Los Angeles, 1984. Ten-year-old Tre Styles (Desi Arnez Hines II) lives with his divorced mother, Reeva (Angela Bassett). When he gets himself suspended from school for fighting with another boy, Reeva decides to send him to live with his father, mortgage broker Furious Styles (Laurence Fishburne), in Crenshaw, so that he can teach Tre how to be a man. Tre soon reunites with his with neighbour friends, half-brothers Doughboy (Baha Jackson) and Ricky (Donovan McCrary), the first soon arrested for shoplifting.

Seven years later, Tre (Cuba Gooding Jr.) is a bright, educated young man who has kept himself out of trouble and is now dating his childhood crush, Brandi (Nia Long); Ricky (Morris Chestnut) is a great football player who is expecting to go to college with a scholarship; Doughboy (Ice Cube), on the other hand, has been in and out of jail several times already as he is on a path of guns, drugs, and gangs. However, no matter the path they've chosen, growing up in their neighbourhood means danger even if for those who are not in a gang.

Extremely engaging and compelling, Boyz n the Hood's is a story about growing up in a war zone with a faceless enemy, a place where people don't value each other's lives at all and kill almost for fun; it is a coming-of-age story that deals with the typical theme of peer pressure and with issues such as gangs, violence, black on black crime, racism, and police brutality, and shows that the white majority isn't the only to be blamed as it focuses on the terrible things blacks do to each other in their own neighbourhoods.

The main characters are another of the film's strengths as they are well-defined and developed. Tre, Ricky, and Doughboy each represent one of the few available options to young black men with their background — the academic, the athlete, and the thug — but despite them being stereotypes they never come off as such; on the contrary, they always feel genuine and believable. The character that made the biggest impression on me, however, is Tre's father. A strong and smart father figure, Furious is determined to raise his son with discipline while teaching him how to consider his options, and he succeeds as Tre's actions at the end are heavily influenced by his teachings.

The acting is great too, Cuba Gooding Jr. being the exception. While Morris Chestnut is great, Ice Cube gives a surprisingly good performance, Laurence Fishburne is mindblowing as he delivers a subtle and full of depth performance in the role of Furious, and Angela Bassett shines despite the limited screen time, Gooding gives a muted and underwhelming performance and at times he makes Tre feel like a supporting character in his own story.

Singleton also nails the atmosphere, with the constant police presence, gunshots and sirens filling days and nights. The camera work and editing, while quite primitive, improves as the film progresses, and makes the film even more absorbing. The soundtrack is also very enjoyable as each song has its unique vibe.

Ultimately, Boyz n the Hood is a must-see film. One that will keep you entertained and make you laugh one moment, and cry like a river the next — I saw Ricky's death coming about halfway through the film but its predictability didn't make it any less heartbreaking and devastating because of how realistic and emotionally intense the scene is. Thank you, Dell, for putting this gem on my radar.


  1. I had this on a Blind Spot list too and I'm so glad I finally got around to seeing it. It's wonderful.

  2. It is a true masterpiece and certainly one of the best feature film debut films ever. Says a lot about life in the hood as it's amazing that it's almost 30 years old and things haven't gotten any better here in America.

    1. I know and it's very sad. It angered me the same way Netflix documentary LA 92 did. It's not okay to not make any progress whatsoever in 30 years.

  3. Still need to see this. Maybe some day. I'm pretty sure I'll like it too.