Writer/Director/Producer John Singleton has been living in a swank mansion in Bel Air with a pool, hot tub, five-car garage and a Peruvian housekeeper -- just what exactly does he know about life in the 'hood anymore? See, that was the big to-do about his first feature, "Boyz n' the Hood." He was giving us a first-person perspective of life in black, urban Los Angeles. Now, he knows barely more about it than Martha Stewart.
"Baby Boy" has all the narrative momentum of a soggy rag. The central character is a despicable young guy named Jodi (Tyrese Gibson) who we're supposed to like because he doesn't hit women and doesn't want to kill anybody, yet he sleeps around on his girlfriend, Yvette (Taraji P. Henson), and has two children by two different women. When a new man, Melvin (Ving Rhames), comes into his mother's (Adrienne-Joi Johnson) life, Jodi gets all hurt because mom's last boyfriend hit her and the tough ex-con, Melvin, looks like he might do the same. Since Jodi lives at home, refusing to leave the house and embrace adulthood, Melvin is a threat to his peaceful existence. Thus, the film is about Jodi's journey from boyhood to manhood.
Singleton begins with a psychological analysis of the state of the black man in America which goes something like this: The black man in America is stuck in boyhood, unable to separate himself from his youth. This analysis takes the visual form of an adult Jodi in the womb, screaming into water, a visual stolen directly from "Requiem for a Dream." If Singleton had just told the story without resorting to explanations, the smart people would have understood and the dumb people wouldn't have understood -- though a good movie would have compelled them to understand eventually. However, the movie isn't good and Singleton knows it, so he resorts to actively explaining the whole theme at the beginning so that the dumb people won't feel left out.
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