Retro Review: Baby Boy

Director John Singleton’s latest journey back into the ‘hood follows the exploits of a self absorbed momma’s boy named Jody (Tyrese Gibson). Jody has two kids born by two different mothers. Jody still has real no desire to move out of his mother’s house as he is very protective of his mother.

But when Jody starts to see all his female relationships liquefy he becomes really concerned and life changing events transpire.

Singleton begins his film by clarifying the title. Which depicts Jody as still apart of his mother’s womb. This image is a brilliant physical depiction of the life going on inside Jody’s head. It also does reflect back on a lot of men today who find it harder and harder to leave home fully. Are they plainly momma’s boys or just overly protective guardians? What is the actual dynamic of these young men?

All the performances are brilliant but Ving Rhames for me was a huge stand out. The large ‘refrigerator’ of a man acts his heart out here. From displaying raw emotion to even a sign of brutalness, Rhames brings a brilliant performance out of Jody’s mom’s boyfriend, Melvin. Can’t wait to see even more range from him.

Singleton’s brilliant action directing does show up when the neighborhood conflict reaches its pinnacle. The slow motion and trick photography is handled with such ease and brilliance.

My main problems with Baby Boy lie mainly in my understanding of African American culture. Do people actually act like this? Are their women really this badly treated? The man forcing himself on his girlfriend while she is on the phone does put these questions in my mind.

Other problems are in the film’s length and how uninspiringly bland the performance of Rodney (Snoop Dogg) actually is. If a more menacing actor had played this character I would have felt more for Jody. This villain is more of a punk than a menace. If there was a real fight between Dogg and Jody hands down Jody would have mapped the floor with is punk. Without this punishing threat the film’s dominating threat was a little inconclusive.

Baby Boy has its moments and a lot of good performances but not much else.

(3 of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

Note: (Contains Spoilers) The original ending of Baby Boy had Jody killing Rodney in cold blood but early audience reaction forced the film to be re-shot and have Jody’s friend pull the trigger. I am not sure if this made that much of difference. But for me it was a little interesting.

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