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Baby Boy

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Baby Boy

Starring: Tyrese Gibson, Ving Rhames
Director: John Singleton
Rated: R
RunTime: 129 Minutes
Release Date: June 2001
Genre: Drama

*Also starring: Snoop Doggy Dogg, Angell Conwell, Omar Gooding, Taraji P. Henson, Alexsandra Wright, Tamara LaSeon Bass, A.J. Johnson

Review by Susan Granger
2 stars out of 4

In previous films like "Boyz N the Hood," writer/director John Singleton has focused on understanding troubled black men trapped in South Central L.A. but in this new film he is critical of them for not growing up and achieving their potential. The opening narration shows a young black man floating in a womb; he calls his best friend his "boy," his girlfriend his "mama," and his home his "crib." It is Singleton's thesis that pervasive racism and a lack of role models have psychologically infantalized African-American men. And it's obvious from the getgo that 20 year-old Jody (R&B singer and MTV veejay Tyrese Gibson), accepts little responsibility for his own life. Still living rent-free at home with his mother (A.J. Johnson), he aimlessly shuttles between the mothers of his two children, Yvette (Tajari P. Henson) and Peanut (Tamara LeSeon Bass). "One thing I know how to do is make pretty babies," he brags. Occasionally he and his violence-prone buddy Sweetpea (Omar Gooding, Cuba's younger brother) fence stolen clothes but mostly they hang out, smoking, munching and watching TV. Jody refuses to commit - to a woman, to a job, to a relationship. This infuriates his mother's new lover, Melvin (Ving Rhames), a tattooed ex-con with his own gardening business, who notes Jody's obvious Oedipal complex. It all leads to a confrontation with Yvette's evil gangsta ex (rapper Snoop Dogg). But in his eagerness to deliver a cautionary message, John Singleton falls into the trap of creating a superficial, contrived, coming-of-age melodrama. Plus, the vulgar, raunchy language, drug use, nudity and graphic, even degrading sexuality may discourage mainstream audiences. So, on the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Baby Boy" is a provocative but preachy 5, targeted primarily to an urban audience.

Copyright 2001 Susan Granger

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