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Film / Baby Boy

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"There's this psychiatrist...a lady named Dr. Frances Cress Welsing. She has a theory about the black man in America. She says that because of the system of racism, the black man has been made to think of himself as a baby; a not yet fully formed human being who has not realized his full potential. To support her claim, she offers the following: First, what does a black man call his woman? Momma. Second, what does a black man call his closest acquaintances? His boys. And finally, what does a black man call his place of residence? The crib."
Opening narration

Baby Boy is a 2001 film written and directed by John Singleton as a sort of follow-up to his smash Boyz n the Hood, and while it wasn't as acclaimed, it still received generally positive reviews.

The film concerns Joseph "Jody" Summers (Tyrese Gibson), a young, selfish, and immature black man in South Central Los Angeles. Jody wants to live large but doesn't have a job. He's got two children by two different women, Yvette (Taraji P. Henson) and Peanut (Tamara LaSeon Bass), and has been living with his mother Juanita (Adrienne-Joi Johnson) for several years. As Jody deals with the increasing pressures of adult responsibility, he also contends with his troubled best friend Sweetpea (Omar Gooding) and new adversary Rodney (Snoop Dogg), Yvette's ex-boyfriend. And then there's his mother's new live-in boyfriend Melvin (Ving Rhames), a well meaning reformed gangster who Jody openly disrespects and ridicules. Melvin agrees with Juanita that her son should grow up, move out, and move on.

Tupac Shakur's "Hail Mary" plays in one scene and he was set to star in the movie before his murder.


  • Abortion Fallout Drama: In the first post-credits scene, Yvette aborts what would have been her second child with Jody. She has sympathy on her side, however, since she's heartbroken over the procedure and her boyfriend Jody is an irresponsible jerkass who has a child with another woman.
  • Arc Words: Doubles as a Title Drop. Several characters (namely Sweetpea and Melvin) refer to Jody as “baby boy”, a not-too-subtle reference to Jody’s immaturity and refusal to grow up, likening him to a child. He also listens to the song “Just a Baby Boy” by Snoop Dogg, Tyrese, and Mr. Tan while in the car with his son Jojo.
  • Asshole Victim: Rodney.
  • Being Evil Sucks: This is how Sweetpea feels, which is the reason why he chose to get baptized.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: Jody and his mother both bring up excellent points when Jody complains to her about Yvette. Jody is right that he does a good thing by giving Yvette money for groceries and the phone bill (also he fixes her car). Juanita is also right that Jody is a bit selfish since he cheats on Yvette and he expects her to be okay with it.
  • Bowdlerization: The BET edit of the film is rather infamous for its shoddy and often hilarious attempts at making the film more cable television friendly. This makes for some rather... interesting substitutes such as "Damn that brotha!", for instance.
  • Coming of Age Story: In a way, yeah, only the protagonist is 20 years old.
  • Didn't Think This Through: It's never a smart idea to trash-talk a group of young thugs who can easily gang up on you. Jody learns this the hard way.
  • Driven to Suicide: After Jody witnesses Sweetpea kill Rodney, he goes back to his house where he contemplates shooting himself. Melvin enters his room and wordlessly takes his gun away from him.
  • Edible Theme Naming: Jody's mistress Peanut and their daughter Lil' Nut. Both mother and daughter are similarly named after food.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Rodney attempts to rape Yvette, but Jojo catches them in the act and desperately begs for him to leave his mother alone. Realizing that this will upset/traumatize the child, he begrudgingly stops and leaves the room.
  • Foreshadowing: Pea's character arc and epiphany is started and hinted at, respectively, as early as the "Guns and Butter" scene. While Jody's back is faced towards Melvin and he clearly isn't interested in what he has to say, Melvin is facing towards Sweetpea, who seems to be genuinely moved by his speech.
  • Gilligan Cut: Jody and Yvette go from arguing like barking dogs to having very passionate makeup sex.
  • Glass Cannon: The "little gangsters" that jumped Jody earlier start crying once Sweet Pea punches each of them in the jaw later on. He also gives Looney Toon a spanking with his belt, while another cries about his jaw hurting after Jody punches him.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: The whole love triangle is guilty of this. Jody believes that Yvette is replacing him with her ex Rodney now that he's out of jail and in her apartment (uninvited). Yvette is incredibly insecure and paranoid since Jody regularly cheats with other women behind her back, even having a daughter from another relationship, which makes her overanalyze just about anything Jody does or says he's going to do, believing he's banging another girl. Rodney quickly gets bad blood with Jody once he bickers with Jody over the phone, even prior to the events of the movie as he heard that Jody hooked up with Yvette as he was locked up, even having a baby by her.
  • Hollywood California: Specifically, Leimert Park.
  • Hypocrite: Subverted with Jody. While at about the midpoint of the movie, Jody has stopped cheating, even turning down advances from other women, Jody's reaction towards the implication that Yvette is cheating on him with Rodney is paradoxical considering all of the times Jody has cheated on her.
  • Immodest Orgasm: The sex scenes in this movie are rather... loud.
  • Jerkass: Jody has his moments early on, as does Melvin, but Rodney is a better example as the film's villain figure.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Subverted with Jody, as he sees Jojo in the house with Rodney and his goons, smoking, drinking, and neglecting him, and gets particularly upset with Yvette. However, Rodney forced his way into the apartment, which Yvette repeatedly attempts to stop.
    • Melvin, while sometimes clearly trying to mess with Jody, is entirely justified for wanting Jody to finally grow up, as he is unemployed, doesn't have his own car, has two children, is constantly sleeping around, and continuously acts condescending towards Melvin for the crime of being his mother's new boyfriend.
    • Rodney also uses a few of these points to humiliate Jody and convince Yvette to leave him.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Melvin and Sweet Pea. Sweet Pea may be a violent hothead but he and Jody are as close as brothers and will stand by him to the bitter end. Meanwhile, Melvin is madly in love with Juanita and wants to make her happy. He genuinely cares for Jody, in spite of their dysfunctional relationship, and tries to offer him real world advice in hopes of inspiring Jody to finally grow up.
  • Karma Houdini: Jody and Sweet Pea turn off the power to Yvette's apartment while Rodney is alone inside and ambush him when he comes out to check it, ultimately gunning him down in the streets. It's implied that Yvette was in on this scheme. None of them are shown facing any repercussions. The same goes for beating up the little gangsters that jumped Jody, though in their case, they actually had that coming to them.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • Or more accurately, Kick the Fort. Rodney kicks down his ex-girlfriend's son's pillow fort, to drive home that he is not at all a pleasant guy.
    • Jody kicking Yvette off his mother’s house porch, after she came to pick up Jojo, in the pouring rain, since he believes she left him to get back with Rodney.
  • Lean and Mean: Rodney. Kinda inevitable, considering he's played by Snoop Dogg.
  • Manchild: Jody is 20 years old, still lives with his mother, and doesn't have a steady job or his own car. He constantly drives Yvette's car.
  • Momma's Boy: Deconstructed. Juanita and Melvin both want Jody to grow up and stop being selfish. They also want him out of the house. Heck, Jody even gets mocked for living with his mother.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Jody and Melvin.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Rodney repeatedly attempts to murder Jody over him hooking up with Yvette during his time in jail. Thankfully, he ends up being brutally murdered himself by Sweetpea.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Quite a few. Jody first has one of these after he slaps Yvette during a heated argument that results in a brief breakup. Melvin has one as well, late in the film, after a violent confrontation with Jody. Afterwards, he tearfully admits that it was a mistake. Lastly, after Rodney is killed by Sweetpea in retaliation for his rape attempt on Yvette but Jody is so overwhelmed with guilt and remorse that he attempts suicide. Luckily, Melvin catches him in the act and takes away his gun.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Sweetpea gives one of the teenage thugs who tried to rob Jody at the liquor store one of these... with his belt. Jody laughs at first but upon realizing how cruel it actually is, he stops laughing and takes pity on the teen.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Jody comes to Yvette's apartment to pick up Jojo and sees Rodney and his goons lounging around, who then threaten him as he leaves. Considering this happens not too long after he finds out that Yvette wrote and spoke to Rodney in prison, even asking for money from Jody to get her car repaired, Jody's reaction is pretty justified, but Rodney actually forced his way into the apartment and refuses to leave, especially with his new vendetta against Jody.
  • N-Word Privileges: The movie contains at least 100 uses of the word.
  • Old Flame: Rodney is Yvette's ex-boyfriend whom she left for Jody as he was locked up. He still has feelings for her and therefore takes up the initiative to force his way into her apartment once he's out and try to get rid of Jody.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Sweet Pea. His real name is never revealed.
  • Paper Tiger: Jody attempts to intimidate Melvin out of the house. Melvin's response, predictably, is to act like he's leaving, causing Jody to tell him to leave under his breath... then suddenly put him in a chokehold. When Jody tries to summon his mother, Melvin proceeds to mock him and call him a "scared chocolate bitch".
  • Rape as Drama: Late in the film, Rodney attempts to rape Yvette.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Jody was originally going to be portrayed by Tupac Shakur, who was gunned down before the film moved beyond pre-production. As such, Tupac was posthumously included in the film (via family photos and a large wall painting in Jody's room) as Jody's deceased older brother. Being that he was murdered shortly after Juanita's former boyfriend kicked him out of the house, it serves as major plot device for Jody's unwillingness to move out himself and his antagonism toward Melvin.
  • Real Men Cook: Jody is not pleased to encounter a fully naked Melvin in the kitchen, preparing breakfast for Juanita and drinking all the Kool-Aid.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Melvin gives one to Jody after he shoved him and Melvin punched him.
    Melvin: I told that little nigga, don't fuck with me, but you wanna fuck with a nigga, right?! I tried to be a good motherfuckin' nigga, but I can't be 'cause lil' bitch ass niggas like you wanna fuck with me! You wanna fuck with a nigga, right?! You wanna nigga who got two strikes on him to go to jail for life, brotha, if that's what you want!
    Jody: Fuck it, I'm leaving, man!
    Melvin: Fuck no, no, I'm leaving! I can't live like this!
  • Rule of Symbolism:
    • Jody is constantly referred to as "baby boy", reflecting his immaturity for a man in his early 20s. Many of his behaviors such as eating candy, watching cartoons, and his reliance and protectiveness over his mother are all typically seen as infantile. He is also bald, not unlike a newborn baby. Finally, there's the very opening scene of Jody, completely naked, in a giant womb, being birthed by his mother.
    • Some people interpreted the ending scene as an analogy to childbirth. Jody, in a vulnerable, completely broken state, has to have his gun slowly and carefully taken from him by Melvin, who wraps it in a rag and cradles it in his arms.
  • Scary Black Man:
    • Juanita's new boyfriend Melvin appears like this to Jody for much of the film, but in truth, he only has the best intentions. Of course, he is played by Ving Rhames.
    • Rodney is definitely this toward Yvette and her/Jody's son, and to a lesser extent, Jody himself.
  • Shout-Out: Tupac Shakur was originally going to star as Jody, but was infamously murdered before production got underway. The film pays homage to him to referring to him as Jody's older (and murdered) brother Ray-Ray and having a huge mural of him in Jody's room as well as other family photos showing Tupac in this role.
  • Suspiciously Apropos Music:
    • Jody and Jojo listen to the song “Just a Baby Boy” as they ride in the car near the beginning.
    • Melvin and Juanita dance to the song “Just To Keep You Satisfied” by Marvin Gaye, which plays over Jody kicking Yvette off of the porch, as he thinks Rodney opening up shop in Yvette’s house uninvited means she’s leaving him for a “real man”.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Boyz n the Hood.
  • Sweet Tooth: Jody is seen at the beginning snacking on Lemonheads.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Juanita had Jody while still a teenager.
  • Wall Bang Her: In an early scene, Melvin does this to Juanita... but quickly ends up changing to "the African Squat", in which he squat-hops across the room, while he's screwing her.
  • Whatever Happened to the Mouse?: One of the young thugs who jumps Jody at The Liqour Bank is not present when Jody and Sweetpea confront them in the park.