By Rob Markman
In a 1991 interview with MTV News to promote the just-released “Boyz N the Hood,” Laurence Fishburne seemed to know what kind of impact the coming-of-age story would have. “John Singleton has made a classic movie,” the actor said. Twenty years later, fans are still singing its praises.
This past Tuesday, “Boyz N the Hood” celebrated its 20-year anniversary, and on July 19, the film will be re-released in Blu-ray format. The film, starring Ice Cube, Cuba Gooding Jr., Morris Chestnut and Laurence Fishburne, is set in South Central, Los Angeles, a California neighborhood notorious for gang violence.
At the center of the film is Tre Styles (Gooding Jr.), who tries to balance his father’s (Fishburne) life lessons with the harsh realities of the ’hood in which he lived. Then there are half-brothers Doughboy (Cube) and Ricky Baker (Chestnut), two characters who couldn’t be more different. Doughboy, a stone-cold gangster, has street respect but very few prospects. His brother Ricky, however, is a young father and a star high school football player fielding sports scholarships from multiple colleges. In the end, Ricky’s bright future is brought to a dark close when he’s gunned down in an alleyway.
“Well, this is the film that I initially went to film school to make,” director Singleton explained to MTV News in the same 1991 interview, days after the film hit theaters. “I had never seen films that reflected where I was coming from growing up in L.A.”
“There are so many messages in the film, but if they go and take one message away, it’s to keep the love in the family. As long as the love is circulating around, it’ll be OK,” Gooding Jr. said.
“It’s a new kind of perspective,” Fishburne added.
Even Cube, who made his Hollywood debut in “Boyz N the Hood,” knew back then that the movie would be impactful. “I think we got a real good film. Just to show black people on the screen being people and not just images, as far as not a sports player or a hat and a gun,” he said. “You fall in love with these characters, and it’s real deep when something happens to them.”
And that’s why 20 years later, we’re still watching.