Baby Boy

"Weak"

Baby Boy Review


At the heart of "Baby Boy" -- director John Singleton's return to his "Boyz 'N the Hood" roots -- is a character with whom it's extremely hard to sympathize.

Played by R&B hip-hop artist Tyrese Gibson, his name is Jody and the fact that he's only 20 years old is supposed to excuse him for being a selfish, shallow, disdainful, disloyal, disrespectful, lying, cheating, irresponsible hypocrite with a huge chip on his shoulder.

Singleton, who set this story in the same neighborhood as "Boyz," expects us to see "Baby Boy" as Jody's journey into manhood because toward the end of the film he has a tired cliché of an insincere quickie epiphany. He realizes maybe he should stop running around on one of the two girls who have already borne his children, start taking some responsibility, get a job and support his kids -- or at least one of them. Well, duh.

Riding along on this journey, we learn that the girl he wants to settle down with eventually ("I love you woman," he hollers during a fight about his cheating. "You got my son and you're probably going to be my wife!") isn't exactly a prize herself. Yvette (Taraji P. Henson) is a shallow, pouty whiner who is addicted to drama. Instead of taking charge of her life and giving Jody his waking papers, every time he cheats, takes her car or does something stupid, she throws a head-snapping tantrum. If he hasn't done anything wrong lately, she baits him into a fight anyway. Then they have make-up sex. Very graphic makeup sex.

"At least he don't hit me like your boyfriend," she snaps at a girlfriend on the phone. The other girl replies, "At least we're living together!" Wow, there's a pair of ringing endorsements. Talk about low standards.

Singleton does an adequate job depicting the self-imposed discord of Jody's soul (in part through some chaotic nightmare sequences) and painting a vivid picture of lower-middle-class inner-city life. He sets his story against backdrops of spontaneous flea markets in liquor store parking lots and homes with plastic covers on the furniture. He builds a reverberating tension between Jody and his 36-year-old mother (A.J. Johnson) over her burly new boyfriend Melvin (Ving Rhames), an ex-con (with a "187" tattoo) working hard at turning his life around. And Singleton has a talent for punctuating that tension with humor, like the morning Jody wakes up to find Melvin making breakfast wearing nothing but socks.

It's great to see Rhames in a role with some depth again (he deserves better than playing sidekicks to white heroes in "M:I-2" and "Entrapment"), and he gives a strong performance as Melvin hints at intimidating glimpses of his suppressed inner brute while putting up with a lot of condescension from Jody.

Although Gibson in the lead was also a good choice -- his handsome, angry, angular face lends credence to Jody's stormy nature -- the fact remains that while the ensemble characters from "Boyz 'N the Hood" felt trapped by their environment, Jody is just lazy and callow.

For the better part of the film, Singleton focuses on Jody's troubles with his girlfriend and his mother. But he turns up the pressure in the third act with the prison release of Yvette's gangbanging ex-boyfriend, played by Snoop Dogg. Once he's on the scene it isn't long before guns come out and Jody is finally faced with some conflict he doesn't bring upon himself.

If Jody started to get his act together before the last reel, "Baby Boy" might have been an interesting modern parable about learning the importance of respect, integrity and stability from the uphill battle of finding one's place in life, especially as the product of an inner-city climate. But as it is, Jody's journey is practically meaningless since we're supposed to believe his entire nature changes forever based on a cheap, movie cliché change of heart.



Baby Boy

Facts and Figures

Run time: 130 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 27th June 2001

Box Office USA: $27.8M

Box Office Worldwide: $29.4M

Budget: $16M

Distributed by: Columbia Pictures

Production compaines: Columbia Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 71%
Fresh: 65 Rotten: 27

IMDB: 6.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Joseph Summers, Taraji P. Henson as Yvette, as Sweetpea, as Melvin 'Mel', as Rodney, Adrienne-Joi Johnson as Juanita, as Kim, Kareem J. Grimes as Do Dirty, as Sharika

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

The 2012 Canadian comedy Goon was one of those surprising little films that snuck up...

Detroit Movie Review

Detroit Movie Review

After The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal reteam to...

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Good news: Steven Soderbergh's well-publicised retirement from directing only lasted about four years. He's back...

American Made Movie Review

American Made Movie Review

An enjoyably freewheeling tone and Tom Cruise's star wattage combine to make this an entertaining...

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

It's been a decade since Al Gore's wake-up-call documentary won the Oscar. And here he...

Advertisement
The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

It really doesn't matter that this movie is utterly ridiculous, because the central pairing of...

Final Portrait Movie Review

Final Portrait Movie Review

A relaxed, amusing true story about noted Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti, this sharply...

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Finnish artist Tuoko Laaksonen used the name "Tom of Finland" as he drew explicit illustrations...

A Ghost Story Movie Review

A Ghost Story Movie Review

Filmmaker David Lowery reunites the stars from his offbeat Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints for...

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

From the co-director of John Wick, this similarly styled action romp puts Charlize Theron front...

Girls Trip Movie Review

Girls Trip Movie Review

This movie's premise basically sounds like The Hangover with added black girl power. But it's...

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

There's so much manic energy in this animated action comedy that it can't help but...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.