Film / Boyz n the Hood

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"Increase the Peace"

Boyz n the Hood is a 1991 crime / drama film, and John Singleton's directorial debut. It enjoyed widespread critical acclaim from critics and the public alike, and helped jump-start the "urban crime drama" genre. It also received two Academy Award nominations (for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay), making Singleton the youngest person (at 23 years old) and the first African-American to be nominated for the Best Director award. Often praised as the best 'hood film ever made.

Crenshaw, a neighborhood in South Central Los Angeles, is a place where drive-by shootings and unemployment are rampant. But it is also a place where harmony coexists with adversity, especially for three young men growing up there: Darren "Doughboy" Baker (Ice Cube), an unambitious drug dealer; his half-brother Ricky (Morris Chestnut), a college-bound teenage father; and Ricky's best friend Tre (Cuba Gooding Jr.), who aspires to a brighter future. In a world where a trip to the store can end in death, the friends have diverse reactions to their bleak surroundings. Tre's resolve is strengthened by a strong father (Laurence Fishburne) who does his best to keep him on the right track, but the lessons Tre learns are put to the test when tragedy strikes close to home, and violence seems like the only recourse.

This film provides examples of:

  • The '90s: One of the decade's defining movies, recognized as such by even the Library of Congress, and preserved in its National Film Registry.
  • Abusive Parents:
    • Brenda is an emotionally abusive mother to Doughboy.
    • A severely neglectful example in the form of Sheryl, who rather get high than properly care for her kids. In fact, her first appearance was because Tre came to return one of her kids who wandered in the streets.
  • Adult Fear: A numerous amount given the setting and themes of the movie.
    • The first scene opens with Tre showing some of his peers a dead, rotting body.
    • A man breaks into Furious's home where his young son was also staying.
    • A young Doughboy getting smacked by an older teen.
    • A young Doughboy and Dooky are arrested by the police like adults after they are caught stealing.
    • Tre (now an adult) was almost shot while walking across a street.
    • Tre is harassed by a racist cop. And what makes it even more frightening is that is the same cop who attempted to be friendly with Tre when he was a child.
    • Brenda and Shanice bursting into tears after they see Ricky's lifeless, bloody body.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: One of the people who (presumably) helped kill Ricky, begs Doughboy to not shoot him, citing that he wasn't the one who pulled the trigger that ended Ricky's life. Doughboy just shoots him anyway.
  • Amicable Exes: Downplayed with Furious and Reva. While Reva trusts Furious to take care of their son, they also get into their fair share of fights when it comes to raising Tre.
  • Awesome Mc Coolname: Tre's dad, Jason "Furious" Styles, played by Laurence Fishburne.
  • Badass Pacifist: Furious is an impressive and respected man because of his intellect and opting for cooperation among the community, not because of violence.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Ricky and Doughboy are both murdered, but Tre and Brandi make it out of the 'hood and go on to college.
  • Black and Grey Morality: The ghetto is filled with violence, police brutality, and murder. And while Doughboy, Monster, and Dooky aren't "evil", they would be considered thugs and decided to avenge Ricky's murder by murder as well; and didn't so any mercy when one begged for his life.
  • Boomerang Bigot: Officer Coffey is a black policeman who shows apathy and hostility to blacks.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Discussed. While on the phone with Brandi, Tre jokingly states that if his dad and her mom get together they would do the whole "incest thing".
  • Cassandra Truth: Doughboy, accused of killing Ricky, tries to convince his mother and Shanice that he was not responsible for the deed, to no avail.
  • Catholic School Girls Rule: Part of Tre's attraction to Brandi is that she's Catholic. Brandi herself subverts this trope, wanting to wait until marriage as her faith dictates. She changes her mind and she and Tre have Their First Time after he's harassed by Officer Coffey.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Doughboy notes some "bumping" music.... by Ice Cube.
  • Character Tics: Whenever Furious is upset (usually at Tre) he is seen rolling some iron-like balls in his hands.
  • Chick Magnet:
    • Gender-inverted. As children, Brandi got the attention of Ricky, Doughboy, and Tre.
    • When Tre makes his introduction as an adult he gets the attention of three girls. He is also in a relationship with Brandi.
    • Furious is implied to be one — Besides his ex Reva, Brenda is implied to like him, and a phone conversation from Tre and Brandi implies that Brandi's mom likes him as well.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: The f-word is used an abundant amount of times.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Though never directly stated, it is implied that Doughboy and his friends (who are frequently shown wearing blue clothing) are members of the Crips, while Ferris and his crew (who wear red clothes and drive a red car) are Bloods.
  • Cycle of Revenge: Doughboy, Monster, and Dooky take revenge on Ferris and his cronies for murdering Doughboy's brother (Tre intends to take part at first but ends up bailing out beforehand). Weeks later, Doughboy is murdered in turn.
  • Dad the Veteran: Furious served in Vietnam so he could avoid the criminal lifestyle and be someone Tre looks up to. The only time he mentions it is when he warns Tre about the army, but given his stern and disciplined nature (not to mention his unwillingness to shoot an intruder) shades of it do show through.
  • Disappeared Dad: This is a deconstruction; one of the film's main themes is that children need their father in order to be properly raised into a responsible person, the absence of one can prove negative for the child. Ricky and Doughboy have different fathers, yet neither is around. In fact, Furious is the only father in the neighbourhood. And Ricky becomes one to his son after getting gunned down.
  • Disappointed in You: While Furious doesn't say it to Tre when he comes home from thinking about going after the people who killed Ricky (and he didn't do anything like that), he is angry that his son ran off like he did earlier. He doesn't say a word. He just goes to his room and slams the door.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: What did Ricky do to become a target, and ultimately costing him his life? He simply was calling Ferris on being a dick for no real reason the night before.
  • Famous Last Words:
    • "Cool. I'm out of here." Ricky.
    • "I didn't do it man! I didn't pull the fuckin' trigger! What the fuck you doin? Oh, man! Well, fuck you! Fuck you!" Ferris.
  • Formerly Fat: Not as drastic as some examples, but Doughboy used to be quite tubby (hence the nickname). After the Time Skip, though, he's stout and muscular. In fact, an early scene shows Ice Cube lifting weights in his yard.
  • Glasses Pull:
    Furious: Come with me, I want to show you something.
    Tre: Do we [Tre and Ricky] have a choice?
    Furious: (calmly takes off his reading glasses) No.
  • Good Parents: Differing parenting styles and being divorced aside, Furious and Reva prove to be competent parents to their son, Tre. Disciplining him when he acts out and being affectionate when needed.
  • Hollywood California: To be specific, Crenshaw.
  • Lovable Jock: Ricky. He's extremely nice to virtually everybody. For someone who grew up deep in South Central Los Angeles, his disposition is sunny indeed.
  • Male Gaze: The scene showing the now-teenaged Doughboy at the party is preceded by an extreme closeup of a woman's curvy buttocks in extremely tight pants.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: A longer example than most, but the movie opens up with a young Tre and later introduces his equally young friends: Ricky, Doughboy, and Dooky.
  • N-Word Privileges: Subverted. The black police officer Coffey uses the N-word freely... because he's a terrifying Boomerang Bigot who hates other blacks. When he uses it, it's with genuine mal intent.
  • Open-Minded Parent: Furious sees no problem with giving an adult Tre condoms when he has a sexual encounter or moving in with his girlfriend, Brandi.
  • Opt Out: Furious convinces Tre not to take part in the final fight against Ferris. This turns out to be the right choice.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: By the end, Brenda has lost both of her sons.
  • Parental Favoritism: Not just strongly implied - Doughboy straight out says that their mother always loved Ricky best.
  • Pet the Dog: Early in the film some hoods steal Ricky's football. After trying and failing to get it back (getting Doughboy knocked down and kicked) they give up and walk away. One of the hoods sees how upset Ricky is, takes the ball from the guy who took it and throws it to Ricky.
  • Police Brutality: Officer Coffey is a black policeman who shows racism towards other blacks because he thinks they're all criminals. When he and his partner question Tre and Ricky, Coffey shoves a gun in Tre's face to see him scared for his life and explains that he signed up specifically to rough up those he hates. Notably, his (white) partner is visibly shaken by this.
  • Police Are Useless: When the police arrive for the robbery, they dismiss it as trivial because there was nothing taken and the robber escaped unharmed. Officer Coffey wishes Furious had killed the man.
  • Precision F-Strike: Furious drops one near the end when reasoning with Tre:
    Furious: Give me the motherfucking gun, Tre!
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: Furious Styles's .357 Magnum.
  • Say My Name: "RICKYYYYY!!!"
  • Shared Family Quirks: Both Tre and Furious answer the phone with a "Who dis?"
  • Shout-Out:
    • The thief who tries to steal Dooky's necklace is wearing an Eazy-E shirt; Doughboy beats the would-be snatcher down. Quite possibly a reference to the fact Ice Cube and Eazy-E were on rather bad terms at the time of filming.
    • The part where they go looking for the dead body is a reference to Stand by Me. Even quoting the film ("You want to see a dead body?"). The endings are even similar, with Doughboy and Chris both fading away as we learn about their deaths in their respective movies.
  • Single-Target Sexuality: Both Brandi and Tre have only show attraction to each other throughout the movie.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man:
    • Brandi is attracted to the nice, smart Tre who isn't in any gang violence.
    • Shanice is attracted to Ricky, a Lovable Jock and Nice Guy.
  • Teen Pregnancy:
    • Furious and Reva were only 17 when they had Tre.
    • Ricky becomes one after the Time Skip into him in high school. He has had a baby son with his girlfriend Shanice, but their needs are provided for by Brenda.
  • Their First Time: Tre and Brandy have sex for the first time after the former was harassed by Officer Coffey.
  • Those Two Guys: Monster and Dooky have shades of this.
  • Too Dumb to Live: As they run away after narrowly avoiding a drive-by shooting, Ricky stops to take a leak and then after unwisely suggesting they split up, instead of keeping his wits about him, he casually strolls along doing another lottery scratchcard. He soon gets spotted and killed by the drive-by shooters.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Implied. The football Ricky is seen with as a child was given to him by his father, who is implied to be dead.

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