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BABY BOY (R)
Columbia Pictures
Official Site
Director: John Singleton
Producer: Sabrina Gray, Dwight Williams
Written by: John Singleton
Cast: Tyrese, Snoop Doggy Dog, Ving Rhames

Rating: out of 5


Ten years ago, John Singleton introduced the world to Los Angeles African-American culture in his critically acclaimed BOYZ N THE HOOD. It was nominated for several major awards including the Oscar and to this day remains a classic. Since then, Singleton has been in a slump with less acclaimed works such as HIGHER LEARNING, ROSEWOOD, and the wretched SHAFT remake. Now heís decided to return to his roots with a fresh look at the streets of LA as they are at the beginning of a new decade. While there are certainly things to be commended in this movie, they are unable to cover over the menacing flaws.

As I left this movie, I felt very positive about it. In many ways I had felt satisfied. The language and dialogue were perfect in every way and the acting was very comfortable and natural. Ving Rhames in particular was fantastic. He brings an amazing amount of depth and intelligence to his role as the ex-con who grew out of being a thug. The entire ensemble is good, though. Even Tyrese plays his part well. But later as I pieced the movie back together, nothing fit right.

Tyrese plays Jody, a player who just canít grow up. Due to his irresponsible attitude, he has two children by different women, only one of whom he really cares about. His single mom has a new man (Rhames) and Jody has some serious hostility. The trouble is that there is nothing happening in the plot. Most of the movie is about Jody and his girl. There is a wasted side story about Jody making a living selling stolen clothes and there are some great scenes with Rhames. But nothing happens. Jody and his girlfriend fight and make-up and fight and make-up and fight . . . you get the point. Thatís the first half of the movie. Then his girlís ex, Rodney (Snoop) gets out of jail and comes gunning for Jody. But that doesnít happen until much later in the movie. In the end, the movie comes to a shockingly abrupt and entirely dissatisfying conclusion. Jody seemingly grows up by magic, overnight. Itís very frustrating. Not to mention there are so many holes in this ďhappyĒ ending that the themes donít hold water. Even the themes are sort of screwy.

The first film was a dark, gritty piece about how dismal and depressing life is on the streets of LA. In many ways it suggested that violence creates more violence and in the end no one gets away clean. This movie totally drops that idea. The streets are glossier and cleaner. Everything is all right as long as Jody loves his girl. SNORRRR . . . In many ways this movie is bewilderingly opposite to the first. Another quick thing of interest, this movie is very raunchy. The sex is dirty and explicit. This is not a sort of take-your-kids-to-see-it ĎRí, as some parents in the audience discovered. But if youíre into that sort of thing then go to the movie and try to ignore the plot and the first movie.

-Zack Schenkkan

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


Mike Doughty



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