14 March 2008 | Michael_Elliott
Hangin' with the Homeboys (1991)
*** 1/2 (out of 4)
Willie (Doug E. Doug) is a black man living on welfare who doesn't see the need for a job because he'll just be a slave to the white man. Tom (Mario Joyner) is an actor trying to make it big, although he doesn't have the talent to do so. His biggest role to date was almost getting a part in the movie Rain Man. Fernando (Nestor Serrano) is a Puerto Rican who pretends to be Italian so that he can get all the women he wants. Johnny (John Leguizamo) is the youngest of the group and he's also a virgin. These seem like four typical people but they are best friends who decide to spend Friday night in Manhattan.
The four friends leave the Bronx heading for Manhattan in hopes of finding some women and wild parties but their night starts off on the wrong track when they wind up at the wrong party and are thrown out on the streets. After wrecking their car, they hit the subway and head to the city where they try to encounter more women and more parties yet nothing seems to be going right. Weighting down the situation is that all four men are having various sorts of problems and when no one else is around the best thing to do is take it out on your friends, which just leads to more problems and more fights.
Hangin' With the Homeboys was released back in 1991 but died a quick death at the box office. This was probably due to the other urban film that year, Boyz N the Hood being a big success so that left this title out in the cold but over the past few years the film has gained a cult following. I wasn't expecting too much out of the film but after viewing it I must admit to now being in that cult group. It's wonderful whenever you enter a film with low expectation but leave it finding a terrific little gem that will hopefully get new fans thanks to this DVD release.
The film was written and directed by Joseph B. Vasquez and his screenplay is something very unique because there are several messages in the film yet he never bashes he viewer over the head with them. Each of the four characters are given their own problems and the film pushes them towards an answer yet the movie doesn't rely on that message and the film ends abruptly with nothing really solved. The biggest highlight of the screenplay is the wonderful dialogue that easily rivals the stuff written by Tarantino. The dialogue brings the four characters to life and while there isn't anything too original here, the dialogue is so refreshing that it's like hearing this stuff for the first time.
All of the dialogue is so natural that it seems this is a documentary rather than an actual film. All the scenes in the movie seem so fresh and real that it seems the actors are improvising rather than speaking from a script. The perfect example of this is a wonderful scene where three of the friends are bashing another member for never having sex. The way the dialogue is given is something that will remind any male viewer of conversations they had with their own friends. Another wonderful section is some fake "ghetto fights", which are staged by the characters to scare the preppy white people that surrounds them in the world.
Bringing this dialogue to life are four wonderful performances and it's no shock that all four actors have gone on to make names for themselves. Doug E. Doug steals the show as the welfare black man refusing to work for the white man who keeps trying to put him down. Everything from his fast talking to his wacky facial expressions just helps bring his character to life. John Leguizamo also turns in wonderful work as the depressed virgin who's always taking heat from his friends. Joyner and Serrano also do nice work in the film.
Hangin' With the Homeboys certainly deserves its cult following and I'm sure it'll get even bigger over the years. I'm sure twenty years from now people will look back on this film the same way they do Diner today. Director/writer Vasquez only made four films before his untimely death and that's a shame because of the wonderful dialogue he brought to his films. This is certainly the film he'll be remembered for and it's a film any male should be able to relate to. We've all had those guys night out and this film brings some of those highlights to life.