Baby Boy (2001)
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Review Date: January 25, 2001
Director: John Singleton
Writer: John Singleton
Producers: John Singleton
Tyrese Gibson
Ving Rhames
Taraji P. Henson
A big-time momma's boy can't seem to leave his mother's crib and make good on the babies that he himself has produced in the world. He visits his kids (and their mommas) every now and then, but his main goal in life is...well, he doesn't have any goals. Then one day, his mother gets an ex-gangsta boyfriend and suddenly he isn't as welcome anymore in his own house. It isn't long after that, that his girlfriends start realizing what a jerk he really is and well...it's either time to grow up or bow down!
First things first! This movie ain't about the "hood" at all, it's an intelligent film about love, relationships, family, friendship, maturity and growing up. Do not avoid this film because you think it's about gangbangers and stuff, because it isn't at all. It's about you, it's about me, it's about your girlfriend, your mother, your problems and your inability to face up to your responsibilities and to, well...grow up! This is an extremely well-written film, with some of the most developed characters that I've seen on the screen all year, with superb acting performances to match. Granted, the film does start a little slow (and go a little long), but hang in there, because once you appreciate and get to know all of its characters, you will be glad that you did. This isn't a kid's movie. This is about the step that you need to take in order to pass into full "adulthood" and some might not appreciate the grander theme behind that step. I certainly did, because I too passed, and am passing, through many of these very same things right now (yeah, yeah, I still live with my momma!!) and related to a lot of the events that went down in this flick (oh yeah, and for the record, I'm not black but that made absolutely zero difference in this case).

But that's not even half the story. You see, the film is damn funny, too...and I mean, damn funny! I was crackin' up at almost every other scene, and they weren't "set-up jokes" like your typical comedies either, just day-to-day things that we could all relate to (like the scene in which Ving Rhames is "drinking Koolaid" in the kitchen and his infamously improvised "African Squat F**k" scene, which you just gotta see to believe!) And there are the performances, too. Ving Rhames, now here's a man who has already established an early lead in the race for best supporting actor at the end of this year. Damn dude, you scared the shit outta me! Tyrese Gibson, I have no idea where this guy came from (an R&B singer and MTV VJ, you say...hmmmm?), but other than his uncanny resemblance to Taye Diggs, he nailed this part to the tee. From scene one on, I was glued to his performance and sympathized with his character as he molded and shaped himself into the person that he hoped to become one day. And everyone else, too. Gibson's girlfriend in the film, Taraji Henson, made me a backer with her many subtle touches, all of which helped raise her character several levels above the "typical" bitchie girlfriend that we've seen in many of these relationship movies.

But that's the thing that I liked the most about this movie. Everyone seemed real, the situations felt authentic, the characters all came across as people like you and me with issues and struggles and hopes and fears. I liked this movie a lot because it was masterfully written, wonderfully acted and genuinely entertaining to watch. And yeah, I even liked the whole homage to BOYZ 'N THE HOOD that Singleton pulled off in the end (he called this movie a "companion piece" to that film). A very solid follow-up to an ever greater original, BABY BOY is a film to be seen by anyone who feels like they never wanna grow up.

Note: The guy who plays Jody's best friend in this movie is Omar Gooding, Cuba Gooding Jr.'s younger brother (Cuba starred in 1991's BOYZ 'N THE HOOD).
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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