The Wood (1999) Poster

(1999)

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Light and low on plot but an enjoyable little film with charm
bob the moo10 June 2003
Three hours before his wedding and Roland is nowhere to be found. His best friends, Mike and Slim, are both stressed trying to work out where they could be when they both get pages from his ex-girlfriend. They go to her house to find him drunk and experiencing doubts. As they drive around, sober him up and dry clean their suits for the wedding, they take time to uncover why he has doubts and also take a trip down memory lane and where they grew up in Inglewood.

Having seen several films on the trot where race is used to `comic' effect in a string of endless racist jokes it was refreshing to sit and watch a film where the cast were almost 100% black but the story was not told in relation to the colour of it's characters. Instead the story is a straight story of childhood memories and it could easily have been any culture telling it. Of course there is a thread of black culture running through the film but it is simply there as opposed to being the focus.

The story is slight and not totally together but it is interesting. The reasons for Roland's doubts are not made totally clear by the end of the film and there is a suggestion that it is really just a frame for the memories to occur within. This isn't too bad as the memories are really more of the story than the modern day trigger is. Both strands work quite well as long as you don't expect too much, it has a gentle humour that is pleasant and enjoyable and both strands seem to be able to carry it. The `to-camera' narration was a bit of a risk that I thought it didn't totally carry off but, happily, after the first 10 minutes it is pretty much absent for the rest of the film. Some of the strands don't totally come to a close and the fact that the main plot (Roland going missing on his wedding day) is mostly a side issue is a distraction but not to a detrimental point.

The cast are all pretty good. Epps is a good lead and is a likeable character. Diggs is good looking but he doesn't act as well as he can for much of the movie – his `drunk' acting is pretty poor although he gets better as he sobers up. Jones is a bit of a comedy figure but does his job well despite being the least developed of the three. The teenage actors all carry themselves well, although in this modern tabloid world of hysteria it is a little uncomfortable to watch two young teenagers have sex (although I was relieved to find that the sexy one of them, Malinda Williams, was actually 24 when she played a 14 year old). The women are all very good looking but have lesser roles as the males take the meat of the story – Tamala Jones is good and Epps' co-star from Love & Basketball (Sanaa Lathan) joins him for a brief role.

Overall it is a very light film that has a plot in a very basic sense but is really more of a nostalgic trip down the teenage years that is told with honesty and humour. It may not resemble any life I ever had but there were themes I could relate to. Slight but fun and, after seeing National Security, Undercover Brother and Bringing Down the House (where race is used for humour, rather than being a side issue) The Wood was also a breath of fresh air.
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9/10
Pleasant Surprise
Rhino Rover17 July 1999
The Wood has not received very much attention and PR that many of the other movies have, but it should.

The movie is about three best friends who grew up in Inglewood California (hence the title - The Wood). The movie actually takes place on the wedding day of one of the friends and two hours before the ceremony, the groom is a no-show. The other two friends manage to track him down and proceed to bring him back.

As they bring the groom back to the wedding, the three begin to discuss old times and throughout the movie, flashback is used to show these experiences. Younger actors are used to depict the current friends and their past experiences are shown to the audience. The acting by all the characters is superb and the flashback technique is used beautifully.

The movie shows the relationships develop over the years through the eyes of one of the characters (Michael) and the humor is sprinkled throughout the movie in well placed and well timed deliveries. This is a very endearing movie that everyone should see but unfortunately, in a summer of either blockbuster or toilet humor movies, this one may get overlooked. For anyone who gets a chance, see this movie. Overall rating 9/10.
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7/10
A simple film
jaronnimo11 February 2006
This is the type of film that you can just sit back and enjoy. The male leads(Diggs, Epps and Jones) have chemistry as well as their young counterparts. The plot is simple and easy to follow. Roland(Diggs) is about to get married, but chickens out and goes over an old girlfriends house instead.Then Mike(Epps) and Slim(Jones) are sent over there to go get him before the wedding. While getting him sobered up, Mike reminisced on when they first met. This movie is better than movies of the same theme(The Best Man, The Brothers, etc.) because the male leads are more likable and less one dimensional, although Rolands reasons for not wanting to get married aren't explained enough. Also, the girl that plays young Alicia is way too old for the role.

Bottom line, the narrative by Epps is good and it's not riddled with stereotypes. Also, the 80's soundtrack is great and this is an entertaining movie. 7/10
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6/10
Funny and very realistic piece of film
Carl Tano6 August 2001
I had heard from several people before watching this movie that it was not as good as Omar Epps' other work, movies like "Higher Learning" and "First Time Felon". I wouldn't say it was as good as those two movies, but it is definately worth while. A story we all can relate to, especially us men. The story is about the trials and tribulations that a young man go through in the hood, or should I say "the wood". The movie deals with how boys interact with girls at a young age, and it does so very realistically. The acting is impeccable, the characters are incredibly real and the way the story is told is very charming. The movie has humor and drama mixed together beautifully. I think this is a movie everyone should see.
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10/10
Its all good in The Wood
Newsense17 November 2009
Warning: Spoilers
The Wood is a funny and heartwarming coming of age film that uses its all star cast effectively instead of wasting them like movies these days tend to do.

The Story: Roland(Taye Diggs) is having cold feet on his wedding day and his friends, Mike(Omar Epps) and Slim(Richard T. Jones) try to help him get over it. While they help him overcome his anxiety of getting married, Mike recalls their younger years growing up in Inglewood California. Mike recalls how he first met Slim and Roland and his childhood love Alicia(Malinda Williams).

Taye Diggs, Omar Epps and Richard T. Jones are all great. The chemistry they have together makes the movie fun as it moves along. There are a lot of funny moments in this movie(when Mike gets beat up by Alicia's brother, The vomit scene,Mike dancing with a plush toy bunny and the dance scene when Mike rises to the occasion and tries to play it off) and some warm moments.

What I like the most about The Wood is its brutal honesty. The people in this movie are realistically portrayed(just like most of Rick Famuyiwa's movies). Now I know most prudes are going to detest how these boys in this movie act but just remember one thing: THEY ARE KIDS! If this movie would have had these youngsters thinking about anything other than girls it wouldn't be realistic. Movies that show us human beings as imperfect will always get slammed by pseudo-intellectual bourgeoisie puppets but who cares what they think.

In conclusion The Wood is an excellent coming-of-age movie that is necessary requirement for any fan of Black Cinema. Two Thumbs up.
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8/10
wonderful movie and even better soundtrack
barbaracormeny23 November 2006
I am searching for the soundtrack and a particular song which has a refrain Higher. I thought it was by Teddy Pendergast but am not sure. And I need to find the album which contains the song. The cast and script was great for it showed how men grow up together and support each other through some tough times. It also developed the character of the parents,the bride and groom,and the close friends around the Wood. Fortunately, the picture of the close families helps keep the movie on track.The mistakes of the bride and groom seem normal in this modern world.The forceful father made it far more realistic. The diting of the scenes helped it move faster as it began to drag during the scene outside the door when he is being held by the father with his head on the door. At the end when the groom throws out the arm band it was well done and effective.
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10/10
Back In The Day
dscorpiondon20 February 2004
This movie is funny as hell and something that people living through the 80's can relate to growing up. The dumb stuff you do for the ladies, the competitions among your boys, the fashion, and the music. The soundtrack goes well with the movie. Nuff said.
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10/10
A Refreshing Look At How Black Movies Should Be Made
CampLo20 July 1999
The Wood is an excellent example of how black movies should be. I think The Wood is a refreshing taste to all the depressing so called "black" movies. It does not end with the main character(s) dying or in jail. Instead three young, talented black actors:(Epps, Diggs, Jones) paint a funny, but realistic picture of what its like for kids growing up and all of their experiences. Yes, the movie casting is all black, but this movie should not have an asterisk next to it because of its casting. (Anyone who thinks otherwise should consider other "great" movies in which no minorities are included.) Overall, The Wood is a good movie with a story line that can be related to people of many different backgrounds and not just blacks. That is why, in my opinion, I think The Wood is a great movie. Congratulations to Omar Epps, Taye Diggs, and Richard T. Jones on making Hollywood see that young black actors can carry a movie in convincing fashion from beginning to end.
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Not only a warming comedy but a great, realistic and positive 'childhood to manhood' story
whoTheFuqRyou22 August 2004
The Wood starring Omar Epps, Taye Diggs, Sean Nelson, Melinda Williams, De' Aundre Bonds and Antwon Tanner was a perfect positive black film that deserves alot of credit. Unlike The Best Man, it doesn't have a boring pre-wedding story - actually it's a lot of fun as the three friends talk about their fun childhood in 'The Wood' a.k.a Inglewood, California. The flashback scenes are done so nicely and the characters are written in detailed fashion and come across very realistically.

When I first seen the trailer I was like it would probably be an O.K. movie but it was alot better than I could possibly expect and turns out to be a big winner, this is a sleeper for 1999

10/10
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7/10
Refreshingly Realistic, Well Acted, Light Hearted Laughs
Soujiro17 July 1999
The most refreshing aspect of this movie is the mere fact that the three main African American characters are not : drug dealers, wise cracking officers of the law, pimps, womanizing alcoholics, bums, etc.

However, they are also not annoyingly wholesome. These three guys are real people with real problems. I'm not saying that the previously mentioned stereotypes don't exist, but I'm sick of being beat over the head with stereotypes while at the same time being told how evil stereotyping is.

This is the coming of age story of three black kids growing up in a suburb of Southern California. I don't know if Rick Famuyiwa is black or not, but he can write excellent black dialogue. Contrary to popular belief, most black people do not say f*** seven times in every sentence and this film acknowledges and respects that fact. The film does drag at points, but there are definitely big laughs and the flashbacks taking place in the mid 1980's are beautifully done. One almost feels that the film should have been shot as one long flashback sequence.

All in all, I feel that this is a great movie for people of any color to see. The movie is rated R, but it's very light hearted and aside from some language that any child over the age of ten has been exposed to, and one very funny and non-graphic sex scene, there's nothing offensive. I am inclined to think that African Americans have come to expect nudity, explicit sex, and violence in movies aimed at them, and some might ironically be disappointed by the cheerful mood of the movie. I hope that I'm wrong.

This is an American Pie-ish movie that you won't be ashamed to show your kids (or your parents) and a Soul Food-ish movie that your kids will actually enjoy. An excellent first movie for Rick Famuyiwa and a nice change of pace in black cinema.
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All races will love this movie!!!
kaos16172224 November 2000
When I saw this I thought "I hope this movie can relate to me and not insult me at all!", and I was clearly wrong. This movie related to me a whole lot! Just because I'm white doesn't mean I can't relate to this. I did in more ways then one! I know how it feels to be left out like some of the characters and growing up is a fact of life and I liked the way they show their friendship growing by day. Taye Diggs was wonderful as the groom who was having doubts, I liked his character a lot. I also loved the flashbacks throughout most of the movie, it was interesting and I also loved the way you knew a flashback was about to occur was when the record player would start with a different record each time. I think everyone will relate to this movie~ white, black, asian, or pink! Everyone needs to see this!
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A great movie of African American friendship in the 80's.
kotruckin22 November 2000
I really liked this movie, and I think many teens and adults, particularily African-Americans will like this movie. All those young adults who grew up will really like this movie, too.

I thought it was excellent, and many parts made me laugh so hard I cried. All the actors did a very good job, too.
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10/10
Yes, AA-Mart is still there...
sixtluvah13 July 2006
Movies are made to tell a story in an entertaining fashion. Any movie that effectively delivers the main point of the story, and does so with strong conviction and entertaining plot twists, gets a full rating in my book. The Wood tells a story of three childhood friends and how their encounters and experiences through life has fortified their friendship. Even as one faces marriage, and risk of the trio being broken apart by distance is eminent, they learn that their friendship has and always will be the strength which truly defines the term "friends".

The characters are funny, how they interact with each other is entertaining, and the transitions between modern day and back in the day left me reeling to my childhood years. Bottom line for this viewer... I sure wish I kept in better contact with the friends I had from junior high (that's 'middle school' for the new viewers!!).

Favorite Lines/Scenes:

Ro: Yeah, I still trying' to figure out how you swung that!

Mike: Aw, man... yeah, that's why I'm "Big Mike" and y'all ain't.

Slim: Ah, n--ga, don't act stupid!

The ENTIRE scene inside the AA-Mart... a drunk, grits grabbin' Taye, a wisecrackin', Tic-Tac dispensin' Richard, Omar defending his nerdistic childhood memories, and the emotionless clerks behind the counter...

(I remember stopping in at the AA for a cold beverage after basketball games. AA-Mart is still there today across from Smart & Final on Beach, only there's bulletproof lexan between the counter and the store now.)
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9/10
Hidden gem: when you've seen the movie, you'll agree with me
Ernasto9 April 2002
After I bought the soundtrack in the summer of 1999, with some superb songs by R. Kelly, Ahmad and JOE I wondered what type of movie this was. Absolutely no average ghettomovie. after seeing the pictures in the booklet supplied with the soundtrack I figured it had to be a black contemporary feelgood movie. I decided to import the DVD last year via Canada, as it was only until a few months ago it was released here in the Netherlands, Europe on Region 2 DVD.

Two words: unexpected quality! Wow, this movie is indeed a trip to memory, as each 'classic moment' in that movie starts with an old school jam like "Eric B. Is President", "Juicy Fruit" by Mtume or "Back In Tha Days" by Ahmad, hearing him rapping about the old school days. Very great acting by Sean Nelson makes you realise his method acting is of a high level. Seeing him play in The Wood the younger version of Mike, you wonder if he truly lived in 1985/86?

This movie was worth my 20 dollars and I've seen it probably 20-30 times since I own it. It ranks in my list of quality Black Urban movies, among The Best Man, Love Jones and Love & Basketball. I'd love to see more from this director..
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THE HIP-HOP WONDER YEARS.
mack317529 September 2002
This movie is funny and touching. It shows the boys we were, and the men we become. Mike(Omar Epps) and Slim(Richard T. Jones) are preparing,when there best friend Roland(Taye Diggs) is getting married. But become very annoyed when the groom to be, suddenly is no were to be found, just 2 hours before the wedding. When Slim and Mike find Roland, they must talk some sense into him, and bring him back to the wedding. During that time they begin to remember about there time in high school together . An enjoyable film. That makes us want to remember our teen years, and really remember the 80's. Omar Epps, Richard T. Jones, Taye Digs were terrific, even the guys who there younger counterparts were great also. The flash back scenes were more watchable then the present scenes. Still a great movie.
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8/10
The story of my life
DunnDeeDaGreat22 October 2001
The Wood is one of the best films aimed at afrcian amercians ever made. The film about friendship between three friends is amazing. Taye Diggs, Omar Epps and Richard T. Jackson are all top notch. The soundtrack repsents the eighties very well and the film has very little violence. This is a movie that any group of guy friends can enjoy.
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9/10
Great movie!
gangstahippie16 December 2007
Rated R for Language and Some Sexuality

The Wood is a pretty unknown film starring Omar Epps and Taye Diggs.The film is in two parts and the film goes back and forth between the two parts.The first part is about a man who has cold feet on his wedding day, so his two childhood friends go looking for him, find him and try talking him into marrying the girl.While doing so, they reminisce about their childhood and how they met.This second part of the film is basically a coming of age teen film which can be compared to the 1978 Isreali film Lemon Popsicle.Both films have funny sexual situations involving teenagers and a good amount of drama and romance as well.The film is very funny in parts but also has a lot of heart.Its a pretty unknown film but if you can find it, watch it, its a very good film.
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7/10
well
sassygirl13515 July 2006
I never really had an interest seeing this movie because so many African American's movie's seem to lack originality. I just happen to see it on television and decided to watch it. I was quite impressed. It was good to see that this movie is something men and women of all races can relate too. I'm glad they didn't get too strong into the violence and drugs associated with Inglewood. I was a little worried about it's similarity to American Pie's theme, about young teen boys in competition to lose their virginity's, but it was only a part of the story's theme. The point was for us to get a good idea what it was like growing up in their world(as many can relate to). Also, the chemistry between the grown up cast was very believable. I wouldn't say this was a powerfully scripted movie, but it was entertaining. I will go out and buy this DVD.
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9/10
Well Done
mexateck15 February 2006
Definitely against the normal stereotypical movie that plagues the African American community. Finally a mostly positive movie that involves black males and a depiction of another lifestyle that exists outside of what's normally presented in many movies. The reflections on the past and then returning to the "present" was a creative method of getting the entire story across. Omar Epps, Taye Diggs and Richard Jones take me back to my youth while telling the intended adolescent stories. And even when the story returned to the present, much of the experiences that are presented are sill highly realistic. I'll give it an A and I definitely encourage others to give this movie a look. Thumbs up.
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10/10
supberb,sublime
ayoung063 September 2001
i watched this only cos there was nothing else in the shop but it turned out to be one of the best uses of £3 ive ever done. the script is brilliant.both witty,moving and romantic.the performances from all the leads(in particular the outstanding epps)make this a feel-good film while still making it seem authentically set in inglewood i cannot recommend you see this film strongly enough
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10/10
Friendship through affectionate eyes.
Cmart-228 July 1999
Rick Famuyiwa has written a story about friendship that everyone can relate to. The young actors - Duane Finley, Trent Cameron and especially Sean Nelson were great. I look forward to Rick's future work.
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1/10
Lords name in VAIN
motherbug200119 May 2019
Within the first 3minutes the Lords name is taken in vain about 5 times..I turned it off. I wish people made the edited versions if movies available
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10/10
One of My Favorite Films of All Time: Pure, Real, Incredible Comedy
zswickey24 July 2016
I wish more people have seen this movie. Black, white, whatever your race is, you can relate to this film (if you're a man that is). The importance of breath mints, the fear of asking a girl for a dance (and fear of erection during), the excitement of being seniors, the concern of losing your virginity, the pressure of being cool even with your own friends, the magic of getting a girl's number, the panic during close calls with the police, the nerves on the first day at a new school, unexpected friendships, dancing like no one is watching, the wrath of a bully, the camaraderie that can only come after being friends for years...

This movie has it all. The three young actors are all stars. They make me feel like a kid again watching them. The comic timing of the young Slim is especially impressive. Treat yourself to nostalgia and laughter with this film. It will take you back.
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8/10
Consider this film the warm up to The Best Man.
Amari-Sali14 September 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Though I've seen The Wood in .gif sets and random mentions, due to it being released during the great Black renaissance of film in the 90s, it was never really on my radar. If just because, for one, I was born in the early 90s, and also because between The Best Man, Jason's Lyric, Love & Basketball, and many others, those films were the ones set on a pedestal and heralded as some of the best Black movies of the 90s, if not ever. Making you wonder if The Wood just got swept up because there was so many good movies that what it provided was more so normal than exemplary, or if maybe it was a disappointment? Hence why despite Omar Epps, Taye Diggs, and Sanaa Lathan being in it, their other movies from the 90s are the go to ones when you bring their names up.

Characters & Story

The story splits the focus between Mike (Omar Epps/ Sean Nelson), Slim (Richard T. Jones/ Duane Finley), and Roland (Taye Diggs/ Trent Cameron). As adults, the focus is Roland's upcoming marriage to Lisa (LisaRaye McCoy) which he is getting cold feet about. To the point he goes to Tanya's (Tamala Jones) house, the woman who was his first love, after getting ridiculously drunk. From there, the boys reminisce about how far they have come, when they were making bets about grabbing girls' booties, getting the most numbers, or who would lose their virginity first, to becoming men. Though when the film focuses on the past, Roland isn't the featured character but Mike. Which leads to an about even split between the movie focusing on Roland's problems in the present, and Mike's relationship with his boys, as well as his love interest Alicia (Sanaa Lathan/ Malinda Williams). Making for an interesting take on the coming-of-age sub- genre.

Praise

Before I watched this movie, I didn't see The Wood as one of the best films with a Black majority cast, from the 90s or ever, but I felt my opinion was instantly changed as soon as the jokes started rolling in. For with Mike and Slim breaking the 4th wall, and not taking any of Roland's BS, and them cracking jokes on each other, you see a beautiful brotherhood. One which likely suffered some trials and tribulations, but overall I don't think these men could think of anyone else they would want to share their joy or pain with.

As for their younger selves, to me that is where the best parts of the movie come from. If just because it seems so rare to find coming of age stories featuring young Black or Brown people which doesn't have heavy handed topics like we saw in Precious or Pariah. And while Alicia's brother was a Blood, there isn't some overdone examinations of gang culture and all that. These young men are just horny teens who want to get with a cute girl, and for Mike, make love to the one who really mattered.

Criticism

Leading to perhaps the sole issues I have with this movie: Taye Diggs and the storyline of the adult versions of Mike, Slim and Roland. You see, in the film, as noted, the present day features Roland getting cold feet and getting drunk. Something which Taye Diggs doesn't play well in a comical, nor deep, way at all. In fact, he comes off so annoying you really do hope Slim will punch him in the face. Though what is the real problem with Roland is that he seems like an odd person to focus on. If just because Mike is the focus of their early years together and during that time Roland, much less Slim, aren't developed to the point you feel like you should give a damn about them as adults. Also, what doesn't help is Mike is so likable and charismatic that honestly it makes you question why in the adult years are we focused on Roland marrying Lisa? Especially when, after who knows how many years, Mike is getting to see Alicia for the first time. And with their relationship being built up so much when they were kids, the little we get to see when they are adults seems like a wasted opportunity. Add on us meeting Tanya, Roland's first love, and us not fully understanding why they broke up, much less why Roland and Lisa got together, and honestly it makes the story of the adults pale in comparison to what their younger selves have for a story.

Overall: TV Viewing

While certainly the films which are better remembered, and more often named, aren't without issues, they are a bit more consistent. And, in all honestly, despite The Best Man coming out after this movie, this honestly seems like the type of film which wasted a good story that Malcom D. Lee just so happened to have already planned to capitalize on. For getting cold feet before marriage, and having drama on the way to the altar, is a good premise. Especially when you add in this idea of the best man trying to make sure one of their close friends make it to the alter; however, between the kids having a better story than the adults, and Roland being a terrible focus considering how much Mike was built up, I have to label this as TV Viewing. For while the problems of the film certainly don't make this something which shouldn't be considered a classic, it is just the main plot it sort-of focuses on was sadly done better months after its release.
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8/10
The Brotherhood
raulfaust30 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
What me amazes the most about this picture is the way filmmakers chose to tell both stories; they intercalate the adult boys happenings with old stories about their youth. The youth times are filled with everything a teenager has to face: fights in school, girls and their fears, the prom dance-- specially in the American culture)-, among others. If you are older than 20, you'll surely empathize with what those boys are into, and realize how those problems weren't that big if you look at them now. Also, you will see yourself in Taye Diggs' character, who feels scared about getting married when the day comes-- after all, which man on earth doesn't panic in that situation? Not only the good script is what makes this movie so pleasant; it is interpreted by a whole great cast, with highlights to Taye Diggs and Malinda Williams. "The Wood" also has a message of growing up, and facing life's challenges with integrity-- albeit showing that sometimes some words of friendship and encouragement are what we need to move on. More than that, we still have some spontaneous jokes from the professional cast, delivering some sincere laughs. The only bad thing about the movie is the poor photography direction-- or maybe it was the cable channel the one to take the blame. Congratulations!
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