The third feature, following STREET STORY and THE BRONX WAR, by New York-based filmmaker Joseph B. Vasquez, HANGIN' WITH THE HOMEBOYS is a remarkable film, a character study that is by turns funny, biting and melancholy.
Tom (Mario Joyner), Willie (Doug E. Doug), Johnny (John Leguizamo) and Vinnie (Nestor Serrano) are buddies--two black, two Puerto Rican--who grew up together in the Bronx. Though their lives have developed along very different lines, they remain friends. Tom is an aspiring actor, though he's
selling magazine subscriptions to pay the rent. Johnny works in a supermarket; he's been encouraged to go to college, but he's afraid to take the first step--filling out a scholarship application. Vinnie is a smooth-talking layabout who hides his Puerto Rican heritage behind the fiction that he's
Italian and lets his many girlfriends pay his way. And Willie is unemployed and unemployable, convinced that he's oppressed by racial prejudice. His furious mantra is, "It's because I'm black, right?" On a typical Friday night they get together to cruise and have a good time.
Vasquez's first film to be widely distributed, HANGIN' WITH THE HOMEBOYS opens with a beautifully written and performed sequence that sets the tone for the entire picture. On a crowded subway train, riders stare at their newspapers and try to ignore four boisterous minority youths who enter the
car gesticulating and arguing loudly. Two of them come to blows, and the riders shrink back in their seats. Suddenly, all the young men--Willie, Tom, Johnny and Vinnie--begin to laugh and clown around: it's all been a joke, impromptu "street theater." The scene establishes relationships between
the four, while setting them within the larger context of contemporary New York. It's funny, scary and feels absolutely authentic.
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