The Film: Hot Boyz (2000)
The Principals: Gary Busey, Silkk Tha Shocker, Jeff Speakman, Snoop Dogg, Master P, Shireen Crutchfield, C. Thomas Howell, C-Murder, Mystikal. Written and directed by Master P.
The Premise: Aspiring rapper Kool (Silkk Tha Shocker) fucks up his life real bad by falling for college-bound girl LaShawna (Crutchfield), who’s scapegoated by the LAPD in the murder of an officer. LaShawna gets beaten to death in prison. Kool rounds up his friends to seek revenge on the po-po (among them Busey and the Soul Man himself). That’s when shit gets more fucked up…
Is It Good? As I was typing up the premise for this movie, I found myself struggling to explain the plot. Usually, I can crank out a plot summary in two minutes with my fast typing. Here, I took five, staring at the abyss of my computer, reminiscing on watching Hot Boyz this weekend while battling a mysterious combo of fatigue, headache and hellish sinus pressure. What you see above is the product of trying to assemble a valid explanation of the plot.
Anyway, to answer the age-old question of “Is Hot Boyz good?” boils down very simply. No, it is not a good movie. Two weeks ago, I took a look at PM Entertainment’s previous epic Firepower, which alongside some other great stuff like Rage are exemplary in how to do filmmaking right without a theatrical audience. Hot Boyz has all the trimmings for a PM Entertainment production—i.e. a ton of character actors, high-octane action—but what is missing is a semblance of cohesion.
Master P pulls an Oscar Madison and throws a pot of proverbial linguini (now it’s garbage) that probably represents everything he wants out of his magnum opus of urban cinema—strong thematic ties and homages to De Palma’s Scarface, check. A hatred of Rampart-era LAPD officers, check. Rap soundtrack, check. If Fred Durst or Kid Rock had shown up in an extended cameo, I would have shamefully toasted my long-lost edited versions of their CD’s (shudder).
Bungled ambition goes a long way to hit a bullseye on the account of unintentional comedy. Perhaps Master P wanted a hard-hitting look at life in the ‘hood, or a revenge fantasy on the police, or a combination of the two, but the result has all of the impact and all the laughs of a feature-length Chappelle’s Show sketch. The opening credits are a good warning of the madness, showcasing rapper Silkk Tha Shocka on a wild Blues Brothers-like car chase. Through voiceover, he talks of his regrets for the path he has taken as his sports car—a Nissan 300ZX, I believe—plunges into the ocean.
Backtracking to the beginning of his plight, Master P immediately piles up ‘hood clichés higher than Whitney Houston. The beautiful, innocent LaShawna is college-bound and has a hard time convincing her straight-laced mother that Kool is a suitable boyfriend, calling him an “artist” after protests that she should end up shacking up with a lawyer or doctor. Naturally, Mom is horrified to learn that gangsta rap is just as much an art form as painting when she starts to learn more about Kool. Kool isn’t quite used to having a parent to watch out for him. Instead, his father figure is Master Keaton, his ken po instructor. Ken po? PM Entertainment? You know what that means… Jeff Speakman is in this movie. The Perfect Weapon himself shows up here in a decidedly non-action role as Kool’s honorable martial arts instructor, who has just issued Kool a black belt.
Master Keaton only shows up to instill some guidance and advice in Kool, but it’s not like he needs it because he never follows it, nor does he even show off his talents as a black belt. The most we see of him performing ken po (they don’t say it’s ken po but it’s Speakman so, by default, it’s ken po) is him beating the shit out of some poor sap in his class because he had a bad day (and we’ll explore why Kool has bad days in a minute). Keaton’s fortress also looks like a repurposed set from Enter the Ninja, complete with a spacious amount of land that could have been a breeding ground for sentient ninjas.
The fateful moment LaShawna is framed for the murder of a police officer is where Hot Boyz starts to go completely off the rails. See, we’re three years out from the Tupac and Notorious B.I.G. murders and the Rampart unit is at its scandalized prime, allowing Master P to announce his true message of his gangsta epic: pistol-whip us while screaming “Fuck the police!” over and over again. If the cops had all been pigs like in Fritz the Cat I wouldn’t have blinked. They menace LaShawna and her poor mother and LaShawna goes off on an off-screen women in prison adventure. Kool loses his kool (ha ha, get it?) and ends up in the path of head detective Gary Busey.
At this point, Busey was in a transition period between typecast villain and supporting player of the 80’s and 90’s, on his way to being a reality-television fixture and cult hero for his bizarre musings. When Busey is introduced, we’re told that he will not talk to Kool unless he has an appointment (this becomes a fateful recurring problem for Kool later on). However, he does have time for letting an accused prostitute—arrested at a bachelor party—try to give him a lapdance as she pleads she’s only doing it to pay for college. In other words, Busey’s Detective Tully is a degenerate who blackmails Kool and dicks him around a little too far. Tully is so omnipotent that he has C. Thomas Howell as his partner and errand boy. I have half-confidence that Master P probably approached Howell to do the movie and he decided on the account of thinking it would be some kind of good will apology for the controversy he attracted for Soul Man, but here he is, standing around.
To analyze it more, I would be giving away half the fun. I won’t lie: Hot Boyz lasts 96 minutes, yet it feels as if 96 hours seem to go by because of how overloaded it is. One minute, he’s trying to channel John Singleton, and by the time the “Hot Boyz” get assembled, it’s become Michael Bay’s Scarface. That comparison out of the way, you owe it to yourself.
Is It Worth a Look? Weeeeeeelllllllll…
HOT BOYZ DRINKING GAME!!!
Figured I’d do something a little different this go-around given there is little to no cool trivia about this anywhere. Have some fun with this movie and enjoy some kind of malt liquor like Snoop Dogg does in this, or something with Kool-Aid in honor of Kool. But enjoy it, it goes well with booze.
Rules are simple, drink every time:
- A song from the movie is repeated in a later scene.
- You see a swooping shot of an L.A. cityscape.
- Kool is told he needs to schedule an appointment or he can’t talk to someone.
- A police officer engages in aggressive or illicit behavior or activities.
- The movie freeze-frames.
Remember, drink responsibly and don’t act like Busey after the motorcycle crash.
Cinematic Soulmates: Scarface (1983), Boyz N the Hood, Menace II Society, Juice, New Jack City, The Room