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"Baby Boy"

Directed by John Singleton ("Boyz N the Hood").
Written by John Singleton.
Starring Tyrese Gibson, Snoop Dogg and Ving Rhames.
Release Year:  2001
Review Date:  6/27/01 


My friend Sonja and I were at the new multiplex in Alexandria (the Hoffman 22) and I told her to pick one of the movies that I *had not* already seen for tonight's flick.  Even though there were about 15 movies at this theater, I had seen all but four of them. 

This is how it is when you are a big-time movie loser like myself! 

Sonja picked "Baby Boy" and things turned out quite well.  Tyrese Gibson stars in the title role as Jody, 20-year-old do-nothing and father of not one, but two children out-of-wedlock by two different women.  Oh, and he also lives at home, has no real job, and is constantly cheating on one of the two women that has borne him a child.  In general, this is a guy that you wouldn't normally root for, since he is pretty much the stereotypical deadbeat dad. 

But, Jody has got a lot going for him--most of it being his genuine love for his mom (Adrienne-Joi Johnson) and his easy-going charm, which makes him an irresistible catch for the ladies--and for whatever reason, you really get behind Jody even as he continuously messes up with all of the people in his life.  These people are numerous, but they include his best friend, Pea (Omar Gooding); his mom's new boyfriend, Melvin (Ving Rhames); and, a shady former lover of his current girlfriend, a guy named Rodney (Snoop Dogg) that gets out of prison and wants to wreak havoc on Jody's life. 

There are more characters than I can mention here, but John Singleton (director of "Boyz N the Hood", but also the horrible "Poetic Justice") does an incredible job of giving all of these characters enough screen time to make them matter.  Tyrese (as he more famously known; I love one-named people) is pretty good in "Baby Boy", which is important, given that he is given 80% of the screen time.  It helps that he is a handsome guy and he has a physique that keeps you constantly at attention; his eyes and his jaw command attention at every turn.  But, just as good as Tyrese is Rhames, who continues his run of versatility by playing the lover AND the fighter in this film; he has some hilarious scenes, the funniest of which might be when he is serving breakfast in bed to Jody's mom.  Trust me, your theater will be howling. 

That, then, is the biggest surprise of "Baby Boy"--it is a really funny movie.  From the previews, I was thinking hard-core ghetto drama, but in reality, this film is probably the perfect definition of comedy-drama in terms of a mix; the situations that these characters have to face are pretty serious, but Singleton deftly mixes in enough laughs to keep the audience engaged.  You have to be able to stomach some of the most prolific cursing in a movie in recent memory, but it is all worth it. 

And, does anyone smoke weed and get high more effectively than Snoop?  Every time he is onscreen in "Baby Boy", Snoop looks like he is high on something, and his smoking scenes look 100% natural.  He may only weigh 140 pounds (and, that's when he is still wet from the shower), but this muthafucka can smoke weed like no other. 

A great movie, although I can't say it is for the whole family.

Rating:  $9.50 Show


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09