Boyz N the Hood: Anniversary Edition
Sometimes a movie can be the exact right thing at the exact right time a cinematic catharsis, if you will. As it stands, 1991's Boyz N The Hood is one of those films. Spike Lee had been directing for a couple of years and had been vocal over the fact that there were few black directors besides himself, while the only high-profile picture to address West Coast gang violence was Colors (1988), which sold itself as a gang movie but was really about two cops played by Robert Duvall and Sean Penn. Three years later, Boyz made a hot new director out of John Singleton and opened doors for those who followed, like the Hughes Brothers. Yet since 1991, Singleton (who was nominated for directing and screenwriting Academy Awards, besting Orson Welles to become the youngest recipient of those Oscar nods) has fallen from view not a single film he's made since that time has been as good (or even good at all; witness his Shaft remake or 2 Fast 2 Furious). And yet, while his track record is faulty, his initial film still bristles with the life that made it such a standout upon release. The story follows Tre Styles (Cuba Gooding Jr.) as he grows up in the 'hood, focusing mainly on his senior year in high school. He lives next door to brothers from different fathers Ricky (Morris Chestnut) and Darin (Ice Cube), whom everyone calls Doughboy. Ricky's a star football player, while Doughboy has spent the last few years in and out of trouble with the law. About to graduate himself, Tre has been following the lessons his father Furious (Laurence Fishburne) has set before him, but gang troubles in his neighborhood weigh over his head, as does his desire to finally lose his virginity to girlfriend Brandi (Nia Long). But when an act of violence changes everything, Tre must decide what path he wants his future to take. A bit preachy, and sometimes too on the nose, Boyz N The Hood still is an effecting piece of melodrama with great performances by all of its leads. Gooding who has since become a far less substantial actor is a fine anchor as the youth caught between two extremes, while Fishburne gives his character a living, breathing quality of both a leader and someone who's making it up as he goes along (it may be Fishburne's best work yet). But the heart of the film belongs to Ice Cube as the semi-learned Doughboy, he gives the film its authenticity and intensity. Presented as a two-disc Anniversary Edition (because everyone likes to celebrate their 12-year anniversary), Columbia TriStar offers their second release of Boyz N the Hood with both anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) and full-frame transfers, along with Dolby 2.0 Surround audio. On the first disc is a commentary from director Singleton, wherein he talks about having made the film eight years ago (dating his commentary to either 1998 or 1999). Disc Two includes a 43-minute featurette called "Friendly Fire: The Making of an Urban Legend," two deleted scenes, two music videos, filmographies, and trailers for this and other Sony titles. Dual-DVD digipak with paperboard slipcase.