Poetic Justice

Singleton's follow-up to Boyz N the Hood is an honorable failure, a flawed attempt to take black film out of the macho gangsta ghetto. It's the tale of a hairdresser, Justice (Jackson), and a mailman, Lucky (Shakur). Fate throws them together with mutual friends, bickering lovers Iesha (King) and Chicago (Torry), on a road trip up the coast from LA to Oakland. In classic Hollywood style they loathe each other at first, but slowly come to fall in love. Singleton has a feel for the rhythms of black lives and the movie begins promisingly. Intermittent forays into subjectivity are, however, less persuasive: notably the interior monologues in which we hear Justice's poetry. Actually the work of Maya Angelou, these mature, proud declamations don't belong in Justice's mouth (the nadir finds the camera ogling Jackson's curves as she 'writes' Angelou's 'Phenomenal Woman'). But it's when the movie hits the road that trouble really starts. The stop-go motion of the mail van is an appropriate image for the film's lack of momentum, as both couples repeatedly fight and make up, with an alternative image of black experience at each pit stop. Too much cultural baggage for so slight a scenario.

Release details

Duration: 109 mins

Cast and crew

Director: John Singleton
Screenwriter: John Singleton
Cast: Joe Torry
Regina King
Ché J Avery
Tupac Shakur
Maya Angelou
Lloyd Avery II
Khandi Alexander
Janet Jackson
Lori Petty
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