University of Southern California and Sundance Institute alum Rick Famuyiwa used his memories of growing up in Inglewood, California, to write and direct The Wood, a romantic comedy based on the friendship between three young Black men. Indeed, when a petrified groom named Roland (played by Taye Diggs) goes missing hours before his wedding, friends Slim (Richard T. Jones) and Mike (Omar Epps) go out to track him down. Upon doing so, the three men reminisce about life in the 1980s and the bond they built with each other over time.
The movie also stars actresses Malinda Williams, LisaRaye McCoy and Sanaa Lathan. The Wood netted mainly positive reviews, with critics like Roger Ebert praising the film for offering imagery of Black men not riddled with references to drugs or violence. Ebert wrote, “The Black middle class, millions of Americans, is generally invisible to moviemakers, who retail negative images of life in the hood--often for the entertainment of suburban kids, white and Black, whose own lives are completely different.”
The Wood was made for $6 million and grossed more than $25,000,000 at the box office. Famuyiwa would go on to direct other films like Brown Sugar, Talk to Me and Our Family Wedding.
(Photo: Paramount Pictures)