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Boyz N the Hood (1991)

As a coming of age drama that tackles the greater social issues of violence and drugs the plague urban environments (here, Los Angeles, specifically), Boyz N the Hood is both affectingly traditional in it's storytelling and aggressively frontal in portraying these darker tales. After breaking out into a fight in school over a pointless argument, young Tré Styles (Desi Arnez Hines II) is sent to live with his father, Jason 'Furious' Styles (Laurence Fishburne), a hardened, cynical man who has seen the widespread corruption that intentionally encourages the violent lifestyle he hopes for his own son to overcome. Seven years later, with college on the horizon, Tré (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) is wrestling with the typical teenage woes of sex and relationships, while his freinds, without the same parental guidance, dabble in drugs, violence, and unprotected sex. Despite being predictable and even formulaic at times, the film is often effortlessly wrenching, equivalent to a cold bucket of water in the face. For any of the teens in this L.A. hell, living through high school is an accomplishment in itself, the commonplace violence bearing no regard for the lives it cuts down, often at random. The ultimate tragedy of Boyz N the Hood lies in the fact that even those who make the right decisions can meet premature ends, while others mindlessly continue to feed the downward spiral. After it's bleak but nonetheless hopeful conclusion, the film's message hits home hard when the optimistic tagline appears at the beginning of the end credits: "Increase the Peace."