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Crooklyn
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Synopsis for
Crooklyn (1994) More at IMDbPro »

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Set in the early 1970s in a racially mixed New York City neighborhood, nine-year-old Troy (Zelda Harris) and her older brothers Clinton (Carlton Williams), Wendell (Sharif Rashed), Nate (Chris Knowings), and her younger brother, Joseph (Tse-Mach Washington) are introduced as their father Woody (Delroy Lindo) is blowing a horn to call them in from playing to eat dinner. Their mother, Carolyn (Alfre Woodard) is introduced as well.

Dinner takes place during which we find out that the Carmichaels' next-door neighbor, "Tony Eyes" (David Patrick Kelly) seems to be somewhat of a nuisance to the family, which includes continuously singing while they are eating dinner. During the dinner, Carolyn tells the children to clean the kitchen before they go to bed as she is going out with Woody for the night and the children need to start pulling their own weight. Troy urinates in her brothers' room while she is asleep, but Nate wakes her up. Carolyn comes home and comedically wakes all of the children up out of their sleep because the kitchen was not cleaned. There's some argument naturally on the part of the children to which Clinton says, "I'd rather have a father than a mother any day". The neighborhood junkie drug dealers are introduced: Snuffy (Spike Lee) and Right Hand Man (N. Jeremi Duru), who are glue sniffers.

Tommy La La (Jos Ziga), Clinton, Nate and a couple of their neighborhood friends are sitting on the Carmichael stoop while listening to the radio and playing a baseball board game. Tommy La La takes a bottle and throws it at the door of Tony Eyes while yelling homophobic slurs. This starts an argument because Clinton says the Carmichael children always get blamed for the mess on his property. The argument ends as Vic Powell (Isaiah Washington), a Vietnam war vet, comes home and greets everyone. Vic is renting the upstairs apartment from the Carmichaels. Troy and her friends are sitting on a stoop at the same time having on and off arguments before deciding to jump-rope. Some neighborhood boys lure a cat away from a doorstep while the girls are jump-roping. One kid swings the cat over his head by its tail and throws it on one of the girls. This starts another argument and shoving match between the girls and the boys. Troy singles out one the boys, Greg (Peewee Love) for being a "welfare case" and calls him a "stupid ass dummy."

Nate is sitting at the table with Carolyn standing over him waiting for him to finish his black-eyed peas. Woody comes home with ice cream and sand cake for dessert. Nate is happy until Carolyn tells him that he isn't getting any dessert until he finishes his black eyed peas. This causes his brothers to make fun of him and rub it in his face telling him how good their cake is. Joseph's cake is eaten by the family dog Mutley, so Nate's piece of cake is split in half by Woody to share between Nate and Joseph. Carolyn, tired of standing at the table waiting for Nate to eat, tells him one last time to finish his black-eyed-peas. Nate finally takes a bite of them and promptly throws up, which causes everyone runs from the table. Wendell is taking the trash out and decides to take some of it in Tony Eyes' area.

Carolyn comes out to see what is wrong, and Tony Eyes tells her that Wendell and her kids are always throwing trash into his area. Carolyn responds by telling him that he and his home are nasty. The arguments continue as the neighborhood kids jump in. Tony Eyes is still yelling and arguing when Vic comes downstairs and tells him to shut up. In anger, he punches Tony in the face and goes back into the house. Troy sneaks out and goes to the corner store to get candy. While in the store, she is intrigued by a woman (RuPaul) and one of the store owners dancing erotically in the store. As Troy leaves the store to walk back home, she sees Vic getting arrested for punching Tony Eyes.

Troy gets back home and her brothers bully her into sharing her candy. Clinton and Wendell want to watch the Knicks game but because they are outnumbered, they are stuck watching The Partridge Family which they dislike. Troy and her friend, Minnie (Tiasha Reyes), go to the neighborhood store where Minnie steals an ice cream bar by putting it under her shirt and walking out. Troy tries to do the same thing with a bag of potato chips, but she gets caught. The boys are sitting in Troy's room watching the Knicks game while Troy is in the bathroom stuffing her shirt with toilet paper. Woody and Carolyn are downstairs arguing because Woody's music is not providing for the family and Carolyn, a schoolteacher is the sole provider. They are also arguing because Woody caused the family to have bounced checks.

The argument escalates as Carolyn yells upstairs for the children to turn off the TV because it is a school night. She charges upstairs with Woody following and turns off the TV. A defiant Clinton argues with Carolyn and turns on the TV. Carolyn grabs him up for disobeying and disrespecting her and Woody grabs her and carries her out of the room. Everyone is in on the fight as Woody is dragging Carolyn down the stairs and Nate is jumping on Woody's back. The other children have a hold of Carolyn pulling her in the opposite direction and Carolyn hurts her ankle in the struggle. Woody yells and everyone gets quiet as he expresses his need to respect for his work in the house. Carolyn kicks him out of the house.

Woody comes over the next morning and brings flowers for Troy to give to Carolyn. Troy suggests that Woody ask Carolyn out on a date. Troy brings the flowers to Carolyn, who is still in bed and hurt, and asks Carolyn for a quarter. The next scene shows Troy searching the house for money and she goes into Clinton's room and finds his buffalo nickels and takes them all for cash, as well as taking his Knicks tickets for starting the fight between their parents. With the stolen money, Troy buys herself and Minnie ice cream cones. Clinton comes home and upon discovering his tickets are gone confronts Troy about them. She gives them back but also tells him that she spent "those funny looking nickels of yours also." After coming in from playing outside, Troy is confronted by Carolyn about the nickels to which Troy lies to her twice. While Troy is in the bathroom, Greg comes to Carolyn who is sitting by the window and tells her all the mean things that Troy has been saying about him.

Troy has to apologize to him for all the ugly things she said about him. Carolyn sends Troy to the store to get dinner with food stamps. Troy, embarrassed, doesn't want to go. In the store, Tory steals a package of meat and 6 cloves of garlic by hiding them in her shirt so she won't have to use food stamps. She witnesses a neighborhood girl, Peanut (Kewanna Bonaparte) getting caught for shoplifting. As Troy leaves, she is attacked by Peanut, but the grocer breaks up the fight and Troy heads for home, without the food stamps. That night, Troy has a nightmare that Snuffy and Right Hand Man make her get high. She wakes up in a sweat with Woody wiping her face, assuring her that everything is going to be ok. Woody and Carolyn get back together and they all decide to go on a trip to get out of the neighborhood but as they are leaving a worker from Con Ed comes by to shut off the electricity because the bill is unpaid. The trip is postponed and because of the situation, the family has to use candles for light.

A few days later, the family leaves Brooklyn to take Nate and Troy down South to stay with relatives. Troy stays with her cousin Viola (Patriece Nelson), who was adopted by Uncle Clem (Norman Matlock) and Aunt Song (Frances Foster). Troy doesn't want to stay, but she does it to appease her mother. Troy eventually starts having fun with Viola despite a dislike of Aunt Song and her beloved dog, Queenie. On Troy's 10th birthday, she gets a letter from Carolyn (who narrates it) telling her about the happenings in the neighborhood since the weeks she's been away. After reading the letter, Troy decides she wants to go home. Meanwhile, Aunt Song has been looking for Queenie all day, but to no avail. Later that day, Troy has a birthday party. Upset because she hasn't found Queenie, Aunt Song snaps at two of Troy's birthday\sleepover guests as she pulls the couch out for them to sleep on. When she opens the couch, a dead Queenie (likely killed by Viola) pops out which deeply upsets Aunt Song. Troy later goes home and is picked up from the airport by her Aunt Maxine (Joie Lee) and Uncle Brown (Vondie Curtis-Hall).

Aunt Maxine and Uncle Brown don't tell Troy at first how Carolyn is, but Troy figures out that Carolyn is ill. She visits Carolyn in the hospital, who is weak and ill from cancer. Later, Woody takes Troy home and Troy decides to clean & mop the kitchen without being told. Later that evening, Woody tells the kids that Carolyn's condition is not well and she has to stay in the hospital for more tests. The boys cry, but Troy remains silent. In the next scene, it is presumed that Carolyn succumbed to her illness. Nate and Joseph are walking up some stairs with Troy following behind, singing a Christian song she learned from Viola. Joseph says, "I hope we don't have to dress up for Mommy's funeral."

As Troy watches television, Aunt Maxine comes in with clothes and shoes for Troy to wear at the funeral. Troy doesn't say anything until Aunt Maxine tries to coax her into putting on the clothes. Troy's response is that her mother would never let her wear polyester. When Woody tells Troy it is time to go to the funeral, Troy tells him she is not going. Woody has a talk with Troy, convincing her to go to church because it's what Carolyn would've wanted.

At the house gathering after the funeral, Clinton and Troy have a moment when he tries to get Troy to talk, and holds her hand because she's unresponsive to everyone else around her. Joseph comes inside crying, saying that Snuffy and Right Hand Man are making fun of him saying, "His mama's dead, his mama's dead" and they robbed him. Following her mother's wishes to protect her younger brother, Troy goes outside with a baseball bat and hits Snuffy in the head. When Snuffy asks her why she did it, Troy tells him, "I'm tired of you and Right Hand terrorizing the neighborhood. Go sniff on your own block."

In the middle of the night, Troy is sleeping, but she is restless as she dreams she's hearing her mother's voice shouting. She goes downstairs to tell her mother to please stop fighting only to find that it is her father who is making a lot of noise trying to kill a rat in the kitchen. Woody tells her that her mother is gone and that it's ok to cry. Troy runs to the bathroom and throws up as Woody comes into the bathroom to console her. Troy tells him that she wants to stay with him and not move away with her Aunt Maxine and Uncle Brown. Troy asks Woody if Carolyn was in a lot of pain, and he tells her that she was. Troy states, "Then it's good that she died so she wouldn't suffer anymore.

There are scenes of the neighborhood continuing to play much like the beginning of the movie. Troy is sitting in Carolyn's chair with Joseph sitting on her while she combs his hair the way Carolyn did. Then, Carolyn is sitting the stoop seemingly narrating a letter she wrote to Troy telling her she can't believe that she's 10 now, that she misses her very much, and how she's proud of the way she's growing up. The memory is interrupted when the neighborhood kids come to the window and asks Troy if Joseph can come out and play. Troy tells him not to go far because dinner is almost ready. The last scene is of the neighborhood being watched by Troy as she's looking out the window much like Carolyn used to do.
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