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Hood Film

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"One out of every ten black males will be forced to sit through at least one 'growing up in the hood' movie in their lifetime."

In the late '80s and The '90s, a genre known as the "hood film" emerged in the US. The focus is on working-class Black or (less commonly) Latino life in American urban ghettoes (or "'hoods," being shorthand for an "urban neighborhood"). Common themes include gang violence, Police Brutality, institutional racism, Teen Pregnancy, Junkie Parents, and commonplace problems of growing up in poverty. Academic settings within said hood are usually poorly-financed and horribly-run Inner City Schools where a Cool or Stern Teacher is called to Save Our Students. Hip-Hop music and culture often feature heavily. Most, especially in the genre's early days, were made by up-and-coming Black filmmakers eager to see their stories told on the big screen, not unlike how the British Kitchen Sink Drama was crafted by upwardly-mobile men of working-class backgrounds; perhaps not surprisingly, one can find a number of similar tropes across the two genres.note 

The genre is also sometimes called the "urban crime" genre, but not all films focus on Gangbangers and other criminal activities.

A Sub-Trope of Gangster Fiction and Kitchen Sink Drama. Compare to Blaxploitation which preceded it. Not to be confused with In the Hood, which is about hooded garments (though "hoodies" are not uncommon apparel here).


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    Films — Live-Action 
  • The early films of Spike Lee are some of the earliest examples.
    • Do the Right Thing, about racial tensions between the Black and Italian residents of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, is often seen as the Genre Popularizer.
    • Jungle Fever, about an interracial relationship between Flipper, a Black architect from Harlem, and his Italian co-worker Angie, is half this on Flipper's side of the story. While he himself is successful and middle-class, the rest of his family still lives in the 'hood, especially his crackhead brother Gator, who is constantly begging him and his family for money and eventually steals their mother's TV to sell for crack.
    • Crooklyn, about a young Black girl named Troy raised by struggling working-class parents in Bed-Stuy in The '70s, was based on Lee's own upbringing.
    • He Got Game is about Jake, a Black man who is in prison for killing his wife, and whose son Jesus is the top basketball prospect in the country. The state's governor gives Jake a week of parole so that he can talk to Jesus and convince him to play for the governor's alma mater.
  • Above The Rim
  • Attack the Block is a sci-fi Horror Comedy take on the genre, in which a youth gang in a London housing project battle both an Alien Invasion and a small-time drug kingpin seeking to exploit the chaos to kill them.
  • Baby Boy
  • Belly follows the lives of two criminals who decide to take different paths to achieve their goals.
  • 1991's Boyz n the Hood is the Trope Codifier. It's about a group of young adults in South Los Angeles who get caught up in gang violence. Tre starts out as a Mouthy Kid who is sent to live with his strict father after he gets into a fight at school, and makes friends with some neighborhood kids, including two brothers who get in trouble for shop-lifting. Fast-forward seven years, and Tre struggles with his relationship and his plans on getting into college as his friends get involved in gang life.
  • Candyman is a supernatural horror take on the genre. While "The Forbidden", the Clive Barker short story it was based on, was set in Liverpool and was mainly about the British class system, the film adaptation moved it to the Cabrini-Green projects in Chicago and had the titular Candyman be the ghost of a Black man who was lynched for sleeping with a white woman.
  • Coach Carter deals with a basketball coach trying to educate young teens to attend college and aspire to be more than hoodlums and even basketball stars when they leave school.
  • Cutthroat Alley is an early 2000s slasher that focuses on a group of African-American gangbangers in the ghetto of South Central Los Angeles being murdered by a masked killer.
  • Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood is a Wayans Bros. parody of the genre. Ashtray is left by his mother to live with his estranged father (who is literally younger than him) in the hood. While hanging out with his crazy cousin Loc Dog and their friends, he quickly gets caught up in violence and crime.
  • Friday is this mixed with a Stoner Flick. It's about two men, Craig and Smokey, who need to pay a drug dealer before the end of the day because Smokey smoked all the weed he was supposed to be selling. His friend Craig gets dragged into his mess. Ice Cube wrote it as a response to the dark, violent tone of many of the films listed here, feeling that they missed the more lighthearted side of growing up in the hood with how they portrayed it as a living hell, and set out to do a Lighter and Softer take on such.
  • A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints is half this, as its protagonist is looking back on his rough teenage years in Astoria, Queens - where he dated a Puerto Rican girl and had to deal with Puerto Rican gangs terrorising him and his friends (who did plenty of terrorising in return). The neighborhood has improved when he revisits it in his thirties.
  • The House Party films (at least the first and third films) are a comedy version of this. The third one especially is more skewered toward this this, involving some bits of the aforementioned examples.
  • Juice is about four young men growing in Harlem, NY. The story follows the day-to-day activities in the boys' lives, starting out as innocent mischief and Skipping School, but growing more serious as time passes by, as well as the struggles that they face, including family drama and police harassment.
  • 1988's Lean on Me is a somewhat biographical film about a Black principal, Joe Clark, who takes over a New Jersey high school in a Black neighborhood and tries to reform its delinquent students.
  • Malibu's Most Wanted is a Slapstick satire of the genre as the protagonist is a rich, overprivileged, white wannabe gangsta rapper from the upper-class neighborhood of Malibu, California who acts like he lives in a rough "mean streets" ghetto. When his antics embarrass his father, who's running for governor, he arranges actors posing as thugs to take him to a real crime-ridden ghetto to make him change his ways.
  • Menace II Society centers around a gangster named Caine and his friend O-Dog living in the streets of Watts, Los Angeles. Caine's father was a drug-dealer and his mother was a Junkie Parent, so he was sent to live with his grandparents at a young age. Caine's the only one of his friends to graduate high school, but he still ends up on the criminal path. It was specifically intended as a Spiritual Antithesis to Boyz n the Hood.
  • Mi Vida Loca involves two rival gangs in the predominantly Mexican-American neighborhood of Echo Park, with special focus on two former best friends who got pregnant from the same man, and their female gang members, the Locas, who try to find their personal autonomy in their male-dominated gang.
  • Moonlight is a Queer Romance take on the genre, about a gay man growing up in Miami. Chiron falls for his childhood friend, but over the course of the film he deals with bullying, homophobia, the criminal court system, and other troubles.
  • The Purge has often focused on a multiracial, working-class cast of characters trying to survive its titular murder holiday, but only with the fourth film in the series, the prequel The First Purge, did it go all-out with this. It takes place in the projects and ghettoes of Staten Island, and features a mostly Black cast that includes a drug kingpin, Dmitri, who spends the Purge fighting off his rivals, a small-time dealer, Isaiah, who takes part in the Purge to get revenge on a junkie who mugged him, and a street activist, Nya, who protests the Purge as an excuse to Kill the Poor and tries to help her community survive the night.
  • South Central revolves around an African-American gang in the titular neighborhood of Los Angeles in which protagonist Bobby Johnson gets out of prison to rejoin his old gang, the Deuces, and ends up getting arrested to face a decade-long prison sentence after evidence of the murder of the leader of his rival gang is discovered by the police. During his sentence, his now-preteen son Jimmy replaces Bobby as a member of the latter's old gang and spends most of his time stealing out of cars, which subsequently gets him shot. He survives the shot, but his father Bobby, who has changed his ways right before his release days later, must convince his son to drop the gang life so he doesn't end up like his father.
  • Tales from the Hood mixes the hood movie with a Horror Anthology, with segments featuring plots such as a dead African American politician returning as a zombie to enact vengeance on the policemen who brutalized and killed him, an army of puppets housing the souls of massacred slaves tormenting a David Duke-esque figure, and a violent gangbanger being tormented in hell for the suffering he inflicted on his neighborhood.

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