If you were to ask me what the most quotable black movie of all time is, I’d say, without hesitation, Coming to America. So many of the movie’s phrases are iconic and are simply part of black pop culture at this point. When somebody’s hair looks especially fresh, it is customary to remark on the juices and berries that must be part of their hair regimen.
“What is that? Velvet?” Classic.
“Diseased rhinoceros pizzle.” Classic.
Shoot, I know that Frank Sinatra was one of the few who knew that Joe Louis managed to make it to 137 years old and counting.
Muhammad Ali? Eh. His momma named him Clay, I’m gon’ call him Clay.
The whole movie is really one big ass quote machine. I mean, it is a damn shame what they did to that dog. But can I let you in on a little secret? For all of the classic and unforgettable quotes in that movie, it’s not the one my boys and I have quoted and referenced the most. That movie would be, hands down, The Wood.
What is The Wood you ask? (I really hope that you’re not asking this.) The Wood is the 1999 coming-of-age movie set in Inglewood, Calif. (also known as The Wood), starring Taye Diggs (Ro), Omar Epps (Mike) and Richard T. Jones (Slim)—though the movie’s true stars are the folks playing the younger versions of them—plus Malinda Williams (Alicia). It’s probably the best homie movie in the black cinematic universe, and if it’s not, it is the movie (along with Brown Sugar) that’s maintained its resonance with me the most over the years. The trio playing young Ro, Mike and Slim—Trent Cameron, Sean Nelson and Duane Finley—had so much natural chemistry and seemed to actually like each other enough that their shenanigans were entirely believable.
When you add in the most underrated black movie character of all time, Alicia’s big brother and neighborhood Blood gang member Stacey (played amazingly by De’Aundre Bonds), the whole movie is a smorgasbord of fun-but-quality bonding and brotherhood. I wanted to be in The Wood because the central characters are just like my real friends and I wanted to be part of their crew.
Even though we couldn’t join their crew—thankfully I have my own awesome crew of homies, all fans of The Wood, by the way—we have managed to work so many quotes from this movie into everyday life that it isn’t even funny.
For instance, I know I specifically don’t get fruit Tic Tacs because of The Wood. And it is where I learned, specifically, that when it comes to women, “suck, never chew.” While that is entirely nonsensical and sounds very clearly like 8th grade logic, I now live by that credo. I know not to say a robber’s name when I happen to be in the store, even if I know who he is, because right after Mike said Stacey’s name while Stacey and Boo were robbing the A-A Mart, Stacey was like, “Don’t say my name, homie!”
But then Stacey was like, “Y’all probably going to the dance. Boy, a nigga remember them dances.” And you know what? I do too. I say that all the time when reminiscing on anything: Everything is the dance. When I’ve been drinking too much, I almost always put my hand on somebody’s shoulder and say, “My head is spinning!” And though they might not know that I’m referencing The Wood, I totes am.
Don’t be around me and the homies and something, anything blue is present. It will almost ALWAYS be met by the saying “it’s light blue!” which was uttered when Mike, Ro and Slim walked into the store in Blood territory that Stacey and Boo ended up robbing. There is no more blue, it is all light blue.
One of the reasons I like The Wood so much is also because of the conversations that the guys have. Sure they’re crude, but you can tell that they care about each other and are invested in making sure that they all reach happiness in whatever it is they do. There’s no hateration about dating or finding the one. The plot of the story itself centers around Ro going missing on his wedding day and Slim and Mike trying to get him back to a place where he should be—getting married to the woman he loves.
Nobody is saying “don’t get married,” they’re all saying “get married and be happy.” That message is a simple one, but it’s really how most of the guys I know interact. Sure, we all joke about getting married and giving up the player card, but we’re all also very supportive and happy for the homie who does and make it a personal mission not to let him slip up.
I love The Wood because of its flashbacks that remind me of when I was young. But also because I can literally find a quote from the movie for almost every situation. And if you know and love the movie, then you can too.
Because whether you know it or not, it’s light blue.