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The Wood Review

Image for The Wood

★★★★★

In essence a black Big Chill, this feature debut from Famuyiwa revolves around the attempts of middle-class twentysomethings Mike (Epps) and Slim (Jones) to get their pal Roland (Diggs) walking down the aisle with the minimum of fuss. Unfortunately their efforts are somewhat stymied by the fact that Roland has chosen the morning of his wedding to go on a drinking bender, and seems more interested in bagging some 'rotund booty' than polishing up that speech. Much vomiting and hurried dry-cleaning ensues, as does a good deal of reminiscence about their teenage years.

Indeed, most of the film takes place in flashback, following the travails of permanently horny Young Mike (Nelson) as he tries to fit in at his new school with the help of Young Roland (Cameron) and Young Slim (Finley). Yet our heroes' subsequent adventures, while interesting enough, prove to be a long way removed from the all-shootin', all-bluntin' horrorshow of, say, 1993's Menace II Society; whenever the trio come across the odd spot of illegality they follow the example of their nice, middle-class brethren around the world by getting the hell out of Dodge as soon as possible.

Although short on laugh-out-loud moments, the result is nevertheless an engaging new look at an old, old story, with cast both young and not-so-young delivering the script with a conviction that it doesn't always deserve. Best of all, though, is the film's pumping rap/dance soundtrack, although the idea that people are already creating nostalgic eulogies for late 80s hip-hop does at times seem more than a little frightening.