Reviewer's Rating 3 out of 5   User Rating 4 out of 5
Baby Boy (2001)
15

The teenagers trying to stay alive on the mean streets of LA in "Boyz N The Hood" have grown up. Now, however, they're disenfranchised young men trying stay cocooned from the responsibilities of the world.

A companion piece - not sequel - to Singleton's trail-blazing 1991 debut, "Baby Boy" exposes immature young men like Jody (Gibson), still living with their put-upon mothers, refusing accountability for their children, and living on borrowed cash and favours rather than getting a job.

Jody spends his days hanging around with bad boy Sweetpea (Omar Gooding, Cuba's little brother) but his womb-like existence is suddenly threatened when his mum's (Johnson) new boyfriend (Rhames) moves in, and his girlfriend's volatile ex (Dogg) appears, fresh from prison.

Without downplaying the inherent racism and inner city violence which make life difficult enough, Singleton focuses on - and criticises - the lack of personal responsibility affecting a generation of young black men, often perpetuating their place within society.

While Jody and friends are sympathetically drawn and played with bravado by a cast of fresh young actors, it's the older characters who really shine. Johnson and Rhames are superb as Jody's charming, hard-working mother and her ex-con boyfriend Melvin - both characters demonstrating the strength, resolve, and self-belief needed to succeed in life.

A scene in which world-weary Melvin wordlessly takes a gun from Jody is the most powerful and poignant in the film, illustrating the self-determination Singleton wants young people to have.

Though overlong and sometimes lacking subtlety, this is still a thought-provoking movie from one of America's finest young directors.

End Credits

Director: John Singleton

Writer: John Singleton

Stars: Tyrese Gibson, Ving Rhames, Omar Gooding, Adrienne-Joi Johnson, Snoop Dogg, Taraji P Henson

Genre: Drama

Length: 129 minutes

Cinema: 23 November 2001

Country: USA

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