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WIRTB Review: Baby Boy

Y'knew this one was coming, right?

Welcome, far and wide, to another entry into the annals of movie "history" where I, Speed on the Beat, review a movie and determine the answer to everyone (who actually reads these)'s favorite question--was it really that bad (or good). Today, we look at 2001's Baby Boy, a John Singleton film which set forth the film careers of Tyrese Gibson and Taraji P. Henson. It's considered to some a classic, so I beg the question: was it really THAT good?


Review:
From the opening of the film, we know from the jump that Jody (Tyrese) is a piece of shit. And when I say "piece of shit," I'm not even saying it in a typical, True God, "you ol' POS" type of way. He's kind of a legit piece of shit.

He's in his early 20s, fights kids, doesn't have a real job, doesn't seem pressed to get a real job, lives with his mom (and doesn't really have any intentions of stopping--even after his mama gets a new man, Melvin, played by Ving Rhames, who's...well, he's fucking Ving Rhames), has two baby mamas and a best friend, Sweetpea (played by Omar Gooding) who doesn't really do much to motivate him to do better (at least until the end, spoiler alert), doesn't have his own car and gets pissed when his main, Yvette (Henson), asks him to, y'know, at least have the common courtesy of giving her gas if he's going to go around, fuck other hoes and whatnot with her car, and so on. All in all, a lot of the problems Jody has are brought on by himself and his partly, self-created environment.

And this is the guy we're supposed to root for?

Yeah, because the alternative is a hardened "thug" in Yvette's ex, Rodney, played by Snoop Dogg. She "lets" him stay with her after being released. And he repays her by trying to rape her in front of her son. I mean, in some ways, it's a lesser of two evils situation. But, rape is rape, and rapists aren't cool at all. Plus, Rodney is a bigger POS than Jody.

After Yvette says "fuck all this," she kicks Rodney and his homies out, calls up Jody, and Jody says "fuck that noise." We see the "baby boy" become a man, right? Well, not exactly, in some ways.

When it comes time for Jody and his boy, Sweetpea to pay retributions to Rodney, Jody has a change of heart. It, in some ways, goes back to that weird, faux-Matrix opening. He can't pull the trigger and end someone else's life, regardless of what happened. Sweetpea, however, has none of that, and offs Rodney. So, the "baby boy" becomes a man in the ways that count (in other words, learning life lessons) and doesn't become a man in ways that would have him repeating the circle of...death?

End of story, right? Rodney's dead and no one will miss him. Wrong.

Jody, distraught over the whole ordeal, contemplates suicide in his mom's house. Melvin stops him and they hug it out. We eventually get mostly happy endings for our main players. Sweetpea renounces his OG ways. Melvin and Jody's mom are happy. Jody and Yvette get married.

Closing Thoughts:
So, was the movie really that good? I always found Baby Boy to be a bit of an overrated film. It took some of the best parts of, say, Boyz n the Hood. It then gave them an early-2000s paint job (focusing less on gang violence and more on the implications of societal fuckups and the lack of fucks society gives about young black men), and said "here you go, chew on this."

Secondly, the women in the film, especially Yvette, come off as somewhat one-dimensional and sometimes "stupid," almost "dick-starved." For instance, the "fight scene." I don't think I need to explain what happens, but all I know is this. A woman's not going to automatically fall back in love with you after you give them head if you assault them.

However, all in all, Baby Boy does highlight some issues in the black community in a way only Singleton can. Could it have been less ham-fisted in its delivery? Oh, sure, definitely. But, Singleton kind of needs to be ham-fisted to showcase how insane these situations truly are at times.

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