Baby Boy

Movie Review by Susannah Macklin

Starring: Tyrese Gibson, Omar Gooding, Snoop Doggy Dogg
Director: John Singleton

With barely six films in a decade, all exposing a hotbed of talent, the case of quality not quantity has had few better publicists in recent years than John Singleton. This seventh offering from the streetwise, beyond his US years director, shows once more his affectionately knowing but unromantic treatment of the realities of suburban gang warfare.

Jody (Tyrese Gibson) is momma’s baby boy, a 19 year old ex-gang member with his feet still firmly rooted in the nest and plenty of chicks flocking to it. A man in stature but still a kid underneath, Jody has a tough time doing the right thing for his women and the two babies he’s fathered. The simple things in life make Jody’s life sweet – home cooking, a roof over his head, money in his pocket and the love of a good woman. But it isn’t until adult life starts making things more complicated, that baby boy is forced to grow up quickly and stand up and be a man in so many ways.

Starting out as a rookie 23 year-old filmmaker has given Singleton the wherewithal to stay in touch with his audience. Any hint of being precocious has been left behind with BOYZ N THE HOOD, and Singleton’s direction and great but simple story, positively beats any hint of that out of his old before their years teen characters too. This movie is good when it’s hard-hitting but really shines in its softer moments showing the vulnerability of relationships, something we can all identify with. Tyrese Gibson plays the lead role well, and Omar Gooding is bitterly striking as Jody’s desperate-to-be-a-real-man best friend, though its hard not to be distracted by his starling similarity to older brother Cuba. However Snoop Doggy Dogg steals the whole show as sneering weasel Rodney. They have some great dialogue to work with thanks to Singleton’s sometimes harsh, sometimes beautifully warm, script.

It doesn’t matter if you hate gangster rap and the ideologies that go with it, or of you think you don’t know black cinema, because you WILL like this film. Once more Singleton’s gone beneath the surface to provide an insight into something that could easily be dismissed by those who don’t know what his films are really about – people.

3 out of 6 stars

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