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The Wood


The Wood

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Pleasant, affable, and fairly tedious throughout, The Wood follows three California 27-year-olds (Taye Diggs, Omar Epps, and Richard T. Jones) as they look back upon their late-'80s Halcyon days in the hours leading up to Diggs' wedding to a sassy, assertive young woman whom his friends naturally distrust. And while 25-year-old writer-director Rick Famuyiwa deserves credit for remembering how things were all the way back during that distant time when Eric B. & Rakim and Biz Markie ruled the pop charts, The Wood is a mess, a poorly paced, poorly structured, lukewarm comedy-drama that fails even to capitalize on the cheap nostalgia inherent in its plot. Switching back and forth chronologically between preparations for Diggs' wedding and the friends' fevered attempts to get laid during their bumpy adolescence, The Wood has a few bright moments, but not nearly enough to compensate for its lazy pace and nonexistent character development. What little power it does possess is derived largely from the performance of Sean Nelson, who, as the young Epps, invests the material with more gravity and pathos than it really deserves. The film's most effective scenes center mostly on Nelson's awkward sexual pursuit of pretty young classmate Malinda Williams, but as a depiction of the messiness and unpleasantness of teenage sexual initiation, The Wood pales in comparison to better and less facile coming-of-age comedies like last year's The Slums Of Beverly Hills and Whatever. Sadly, though, The Wood will likely make far more money than either of those underrated films, which says more about studios' unwillingness to adequately market films with multi-dimensional female protagonists than it does about the quality of the movies themselves.