by Esme Lee
Released in 1991, “Boyz n the Hood,” still contains timeless themes on the theories of race, class, and systematic oppression through the story of three boys growing up together in South Central L.A. Beginning when our main character, Tre(Cuba Gooding Jr.), is just a young boy, and he has to go live with his father because of his trouble-making in school. At his father’s house he meets his neighbors Ricky(Laurence Fishburne) and Doughboy(Ice Cube) who also become the central characters. Already we can see the violence surrounding the little boys’ lives as they explore a dead body, start shoplifting, and observe the older boys in their neighborhood. Director John Singleton makes it a point for the audience to make note of Tre’s relationship with his father and Ricky and Doughboy’s lack-thereof and we begin to understand why Tre’s mother sent him away and why she reminds him how lucky he is to have a father that wants to raise him.
The film skips over many years until Doughboy is getting out of prison for what isn’t his first time. The three boys, now grown up, need to navigate between what they want for their futures and what their environment will allow for them to achieve. Ricky is a star football player and a new father, bound for college. Doughboy’s future seems determined to be bound by trouble and drug dealing. Tre is unsure of what he wants, only knowing he wants to marry his girlfriend and not end up like so many of their peers do. Their lives harshly portray the realities of growing up in an inner city environment through the mothers addicted to crack, the gun violence, and the experiences they have grown so accustomed to. Certain scenes really manage to stay with you beyond the ending.
A pivotal role in the movie is Tre’s father, Furious. He teaches the relationship between the black on black violence they experience and the system they’ve grown up in through the purposefully placed liquor and gun shops on each corner. Furious provides reason and teaches
Tre to think before he acts while his friends have clearly not received that type of advice. The film impacts you by focusing on many issues that people haven’t faced and Furious’ character plays a big part in this. Another feature of the film that elevates the effect are the patterns that are formed. When Ricky is young he carries around a football that belonged to his dad (no longer in the picture) and it clearly means a lot. This football serves as a symbol of his devotion, loyalty and fatherhood while foreshadowing to future events.
As they go through their older teenage years and make decisions about their future, faith, and values, their younger years follow them right along. The method of editing and technical mechanisms are, at times, ambiguous, but it does not distract from the plot and theme of the movie.