The Wood
*** GM
Starring: Omar Epps, Richard T. Jones, Taye Diggs, Sean Nelson, Duane Finley, Trent Cameron

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I'll say it again - Omar Epps is just one of the coolest mofuckas out there.

I'll forgive him for that Mod Squad crap. I've liked him ever since "Higher Learning," when he automatically made everyone else on screen look like an annoying twerp, he was so cool. Who else could step into Wesley Snipes' shoes as Willy Mays Hayes in "Major League 2?" He's going to be in a movie called "In Too Deep" with LL Cool J. The only way that movie could get any cooler is if Ving Rhames shows up somewhere in it.

In "The Wood" (short for Inglewood, CA), Epps, Richard T. Jones and Taye Diggs are a funny trio of pals that often flashback to their adolescent years in an effort to get Diggs to go to his own damn wedding. The teen actors playing the teen trio (Sean Nelson, Duane Finley and Trent Cameron, respectively) actually make up most of the film, and they do a really good job of portraying the awkwardness of being young, even though they don't look much like the adult trio at all.

What's most refreshing about this is something that Spike Lee was railing about a few years back - he was getting sick of every movie about black people being about gang violence and petty crime. This is a simple, warm and funny look into the lives of three good friends growing up together and getting somewhat scared of growing apart as they mature. There's nothing particularly revolutionary, exceptional or different about the film. But it's entertaining nonetheless. Engaging actors with a good script can always make a film work.

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