Ewan Gleadow’s review published on Letterboxd:
The debut of the late John Singleton provides us such a great look into a side of society I’ve never experienced before. I’m a great fan of films that manage to provide me with glimpses into how different countries handle their own attitudes to various political issues. Growing up in the North of England, we’ve got the likes of Ken Loach providing us with greats such as Sorry We Missed You and I, Daniel Blake. Across the pond though, there’s an untapped market of films looking to display the working classes and minority groups that struggle to keep themselves going within a corrupt American system. The Florida Project was a solid piece of film that I failed to connect with, Boyz ‘n’ The Hood did not have this problem.
This may be due to the great performances it provides throughout. Singleton directs a certainly stacked cast including the likes of the great Laurence Fishburne, Cuba Gooding Jr and Ice Cube. Fishburne in particular strikes us with a remarkable performance that blends the tough street attitude he’s had to grow accustomed to with the care he feels for his son and his wellbeing. The blend is great, Fishburne always provides great performances (aside from Passengers) and it’s no surprise that he manages to bring about a solid supporting performance here. The chemistry between Fishburne and Gooding Jr. is marvellous, presenting a father and son dynamic as believably as they possibly can.
Rather than focusing on just the life of Fishburne though, Boyz ‘n’ The Hood presents us a group of down on their luck teenagers looking to simply survive in a harsh environment. It works well, there’s danger around every corner and Singleton directs us through these scenes with great ease. Singleton’s direction captures heartbreak and emotive distress with such ease that it paints a grand picture of how harrowing life in the suburbs of Crenshaw.
A great script is what really brings it altogether though, with a surge of emotions captured in the writing, Fishburne in particular manages to excel thoroughly with his sage, fatherly advice that he looks to pass onto his son. Outside of this dynamic though, we receive a solid enough performance from Ice Cube, and some relatively enjoyable supporting performances from Nia Long and Morris Chestnut. They’re not the most memorable of performances, and they bring the more predictable aspects of the film to light but they’re still relatively engaging.
That’s exactly what Boyz ‘n’ The Hood is, a relatively engaging piece that looks to perfect a message that still haunts America to this day. Singleton’s direction, paired with the greater talents of Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett, Boyz ‘n’ The Hood is a great experience that fails to leave a lasting mark, but still provides enough engaging pieces to warrant a watch.