Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB. USA, 1991. Columbia Pictures Corporation. Screenplay by John Singleton. Cinematography by Charles Mills. Produced by Steve Nicolaides. Music by Stanley Clarke. Production Design by Bruce Bellamy. Costume Design by Darryle Johnson, Sharlene Williams. Film Editing by Bruce Cannon. Academy Awards 1991. New York Film Critics Awards 1991.
Director John Singleton knocked the socks off the movie industry when he directed this poignant, intelligent and unforgettable drama at the age of 23. It stars Cuba Gooding Jr. as a young man growing up in the ‘hood’ of Los Angeles after his parents divorce and he goes to live with his father (a perfectly cast Laurence Fishburne). Part of the movie focuses on his childhood, while the rest is a fantastic examination of his teenage life with his friends and family as they navigate personal crises, racism and the violence of the neighborhood that mars its richly knit family life. Singleton doesn’t shy away from the negative aspects of his subject, but he doesn’t paint a cheerfully optimistic picture either; the film’s joys are triumphs and its sorrows are tragic, and it is his level-minded approach to the story that makes it so satisfying and important. Angela Bassett is a knockout as Gooding, Jr.’s mom, while Fishburne steals every scene he’s in.