For a great deal of my adult life, like many Gen-Xers who have an affinity for Hip Hop and seeing people getting their proverbial cap twisted backwards on the silver screen - there’s always been a special place in my heart for the movie “Juice”. When the Ernest Dickerson written and directed crime drama first came out in January of 1992 I was 18 years old, with washboard abs and an untainted view of the world that is absolutely foreign to me now - so it isn’t that much of a logical leap to see how a movie mixing both Hip Hop and young men trying to find their way in the world would appeal to someone like me at the time. In the subsequent years I’ve glamorized that film in my head something awful - still holding on to my teenage sentiments of the movie, despite knowing in the back of my mind that the utterly ornery grown man that I am today would probably rip the movie a new orifice upon further review. It’s like that High School crush that you often spend large chunks of your work hours daydreaming about - never coming to grips with the pathetic reality of a man steadily approaching middle age thinking about the 17 year old version of someone unrecognizable to the woman she has since become.
But like that same crush who you run into at your High School reunion, to borrow a military term, “events on the ground" really force you to rethink things dramatically. She’s still that carefree girl that you wanted to clumsily penetrate to Bell Biv Devoe records back in the day, but what was once endearing to you as a teen now just comes off as irresponsibility. Her overwhelming concern for people’s welfare at one time showed how much of a considerate person she was, but now you spend an inordinate amount of time wishing she wasn’t so goddamned nosy. The quirkiness that once made my heart go all aflutter has become a weirdness that I just want to run from like I’m being chased by flesh eating zombies. That said, re-watching "Juice" the other night has brought on similar emotions to say the least.
Put aside Tupac’s epic overacting, the large amount of projectile spittle the exits his mandible throughout the movie, the paper thin plot, and Omar Epps being as believable a DJ as Damon Wayons was a basketball player.(“Celtic Pride”) The main reason the movie is supposed to work is because a very likeable character, “Raheem”, is killed by the sinister “Bishop" - and to add insult to injury, if the point isn’t already made that Bishop is someone to be reviled, he shows up at Raheem’s funeral and gives his mom and sister the Eddie Haskell routine. So for the remainder of the movie, especially after Bishop feels he’s been slighted by both "Q" and "Steele" - the viewer’s only wish is to see Bishop’s character take a permanent dirtnap before he proceeds in picking off the aforementioned characters systematically.
OK, fair enough. But when you watch the movie again you are both reminded that the “likeable" character Raheem not only helped mastermind a robbery, but he also decided to have the most mentally unstable member of the crew handle the firearm. This is the same guy who I’m sure they’ve all seen do fundamentally head scratching shit for years now. This is the same guy who has a direct bloodline(his father) to someone who isn’t exactly a perfect picture of mental health. Once all of that starts to finally sink in, you really stop giving a shit about everything: Bishop shooting Raheem. Bishop showing how much of a sociopath his is by attending Raheem’s funeral. Bishop shooting Steele. Bishop actively trying to murder Q. Like I stated before, you no longer give a shit about any of the characters. Because if these simple motherfuckers are going to not only do something as stupid as plan a robbery, but involve the craziest person they’ve probably ever known in the crime and give him the gun to hold - those simple motherfuckers deserve whatever fate they get.
Man, watching movies at 37 is really a bummer. Someone, for god’s sake, keep my black ass away from “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”. I want to like that movie for a few more years.