Director: Rick Famuyiwa
Stars: Omar Epps, Taye Diggs, Richard T. Jones, Sanaa Lathan, LisaRaye McCoy, Sean Nelson, Duane Finley, Trent Cameron, Malinda Williams, De'Aundre Bonds, Antwon Tanner
A wedding is the perfect time for reflection. In the underrated The Wood, three friends fondly recall several important moments in their lives, as well as their friendship, before one's marriage.
It's Roland's (Taye Diggs) big day, and he's nowhere to be found, much to the anger of friends Slim (Richard T. Jones) and Mike (Omar Epps). A drunk, cold-footed Roland is eventually discovered at an old girlfriend's house, and Mike and Slim are forced to sober him up and rush him to the altar. The story, told from Mike's perspective, flashes back to the first time they met in junior high school, and recalls important moments from their teen years growing up in Inglewood, California.
The Wood is a bright coming-of-age tale about firsts: the first time you met your best friends, the first time you thought your life was in danger, the first time you had sex, and the first time you realized you were in love. Mike narrates the story, occasionally breaking the fourth wall. During the flashback scenes, he grows from an awkward kid with a country accent to the glue that holds the trio together.
It's a lighthearted, yet deep analysis of a friendship that's lasted roughly half of the primary character's lives. The flashbacks are easily the best scenes, capturing the awkwardness of being a teenager with hilarious accuracy. Music plays a key role in The Wood, with Ahmad's "Back in the Day" introducing the film's premise during the opening credits and Luther Vandross and Cheryl Lynn's "If This World Were Mine" cover playing during two of the film's most important moments.
In the 19 years since its release, The Wood has proven to be timeless. It never gets old because viewers will always compare Mike, Roland, and Slim's experiences to their own. At some point, most people will have been in both positions: teenagers just trying to make sense of life, and adults reminiscing on those ridiculous antics while preparing for marriage, yet another milestone.