A 20-year-old man named Joseph "Jody" Summers (Tyrese Gibson) lives with his 36-year-old mother Juanita (Adrienne-Joi Johnson), in South Central Los Angeles. He spends most of his time with his unemployed best friend Sweetpea (Omar Gooding), and does not seem interested in becoming a responsible adult. However, he is forced to mature as a result of an ex-con named Melvin (Ving Rhames), who moves into their home. Another factor is his children—a son Joseph "JoJo" Summers Jr. with his girlfriend of five years, 25-year-old Yvette (Taraji P. Henson) and a daughter with an 18-year-old girl that he cheated on Yvette with named Peanut (Tamara LaSeon Bass) who also lives with her mother.
At the beginning of the movie, Jody visits Yvette at the clinic to find out that she is pregnant. Yvette constantly asks Jody if he will ever come live with her and their son so they could be like a family, but Jody avoids the subject and comes and goes as he pleases. Jody also continues seeing and having sex with other women, including Peanut. Jody also nearly has sex with 23-year-old Pandora (Tawny Dahl), Yvette's colleague and co-worker, but manages to rebuff her advances. This becomes an issue between him and Yvette as well, especially since Yvette and Peanut do not get along and Yvette is not getting along with Pandora. When she discovers his cheating, they get in a heated argument which results in Yvette punching Jody in the face and Jody slapping Yvette in the face. After this, Yvette changes the locks on the door. This infuriates Jody and they get into an argument, which JoJo witnesses. Eventually, Yvette's gangster ex-boyfriend Rodney (Snoop Dogg) is released from San Quentin State Prison and returns to the neighborhood to move in with Yvette, much to her dismay. Rodney doesn't care for Yvette and JoJo and wants to impregnate Yvette himself. Rodney attempts to rape Yvette in front of her son, but reconsiders after being guilted by Yvette and JoJo. Despite their previous differences, Yvette begins to realize she is still in love with Jody. For the next couple of days, Yvette lives in fear and disgust of Rodney being there. Juanita finds marijuana in her garden and blames Jody for planting it. Jody becomes angry at his mom and blames Melvin for the marijuana. Melvin comes home and admits to Juanita that he planted it. Jody and Melvin get into a heated argument, which results in Melvin punching him in the face and breaking the table. Jody leaves the house to see Sweetpea. After this, Yvette kicks Rodney and his friends out of her apartment. Eventually, after some more bickering, Yvette and Jody reconcile at Sweetpea's house, and Yvette tells Jody that Rodney attempted to rape her in front of JoJo. Rodney steals the money and keys from her wallet and takes off in her car to go and find Jody. Rodney tries to kill Jody in a drive-by shooting; however, he is unsuccessful. Later that night, Jody and Sweetpea confront Rodney, and as he attempts to escape, Jody shoots him in the back of the legs. Sweetpea urges Jody to kill Rodney, but he refuses, at which point Sweetpea shoots Rodney to death. Feeling guilty for Rodney's death, Jody prepares to commit suicide by shooting himself in the head, but Melvin catches him and takes the gun. After reflecting on the death of Rodney and how he put Yvette and his son in danger by not being around consistently, Jody finally moves out of his mom's house and in with Yvette.
Jody has now become a mature man, realizing that Juanita's relationship with Melvin is a stable one and that he has a family of his own that he needs to protect and take care of. Afterward, Jody and Yvette get married and look forward to the birth of their unborn child. Sweetpea decides to turn over a new leaf and gets baptized, putting his old life as a thug behind him.Tyrese Gibson as Joseph "Jody" Summers / Baby Boy, an unemployed bike mechanic who fathers two children. At one point, he has affairs with Peanut, the mother of his baby daughter, while dating Yvette.Omar Gooding as Sweetpea, Jody's best friend who is known for his somewhat crazy antics.Taraji P. Henson as Yvette, Jody's older girlfriend and later wife, and the mother of his son and unborn child.Snoop Dogg as Rodney, Yvette's ex-boyfriend, who was recently released from prison and has a strong dislike towards Jody.Ving Rhames as Melvin, Juanita's ex-con boyfriend, for whom Jody has disdain.Adrienne-Joi Johnson as Juanita, Jody's mother.Mo'Nique as Patrice, Juanita's best friend.Angell Conwell as Kim, Sweetpea's girlfriend.Tamara LaSeon Bass as Peanut, the mother of Jody's baby daughter, who does not get along with Yvette.Tawny Dahl as Pandora, Yvette's co-worker and a pursuer of Jody.Tracey Cherelle Jones as Sharika, Yvette's best friend.Candy Ann Brown as Ms. Herron, Peanut's mother.Kaylan Bolton and Kylan Bolton as Joseph "Jo Jo" Summers Jr, Jody's oldest child and son with Yvette.Olan Thompson as Chris, Sharika's boyfriend of 3 years, who she occasionally gets into physical altercations with.Alexsandra Wright, as the woman inside
In its opening weekend, the film grossed $8,606,403 in 1,533 theaters in the United States, averaging $5,614 per theater, and ranking #5 at the box office. It grossed a total of $28,734,552 domestically and $647,097 elesewhere for a total of $29,381,649, above its $16 million production budget.
Baby Boy received mixed to positive reviews from critics and has a rating of 71% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 92 reviews with an average score of 6.2 out of 10. The consensus states "Preachy and repetitive in parts, Baby Boy still manages to exude authenticity, thanks to its competent cast." The film also has a score of 55 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 26 critics indicating 'Mixed or average reviews'.
Roger Ebert gave the film 3½ stars out of 4 and stated in his review: "Baby Boy is a bold criticism of young black men who carelessly father babies, live off their mothers and don't even think of looking for work. It is also a criticism of the society that pushes them into that niche. There has never been a movie with this angle on the African-American experience" and "[it] doesn't fall back on easy liberal finger-pointing. There are no white people in this movie, no simplistic blaming of others; the adults in Jody's life blame him for his own troubles, and they should." Kenneth Turan, film critic for the Los Angeles Times, praised the film for being "...Compelling.... heartfelt and personal..." Jonathan Rosenbaum of Chicago Reader also likes the film, stating "Like John Singleton's other features, this is far from flawless.... But the characters are so full-bodied and the feelings so raw and complex that I'd call this the best thing he's done to date..."
A soundtrack containing hip-hop and R&B music was released by Universal Records on June 19, 2001. It peaked at #41 on the Billboard 200, #12 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and #5 on the Top Soundtracks, and spawned one charting single, "Just a Baby Boy", performed by Snoop Dogg featuring Tyrese & Mr. Tan, which made it to #90 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #40 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks. The soundtrack contains interludes which are sound clips from the film.
- "The Womb (Intro)"- 1:14 (Tyrese)
- "Just a Baby Boy"- 4:16 (Snoop Dogg featuring Tyrese & Mr. Tan)
- "Just a Man"- 3:59 (Raphael Saadiq featuring Devin the Dude)
- "Focus (Interlude)"- :22 (Tyrese & Taraji P. Henson)
- "Baby Mama"- 4:44 (Three 6 Mafia featuring La Chat)
- "Talk Shit 2 Ya"- 4:35 (D'Angelo featuring Marlon C)
- "I'd Rather Be With You"- 4:55 (Bootsy Collins)
- "You"- 4:45 (Felicia Adams)
- "Jody Meets Rodney (Interlude)"- :30 (Tyrese & Snoop Dogg)
- "Crip Hop"- 5:03 (Tha Eastsidaz featuring Snoop Dogg)
- "Thatshowegetdown"- 4:17 (B.G. featuring Baby & Lac)
- "Guns and Butter (Interlude)"- :30 (Ving Rhames)
- "We Keep It G"- 4:44 (Lost Angels)
- "Eat Sleep Think"- 3:36 (Connie McKendrick)
- "Just to Keep You Satisfied"- 4:24 (Marvin Gaye)
- "I Hate You (Interlude)"- :41 (Tyrese & Taraji P. Henson)
- "Love & War"- 5:21 (Anthony Hamilton featuring Macy Gray)
- "Straight Fucking"- 4:59 (The Transistitions featuring Gator)
- "Baby Boy"- 4:30 (Felicia Adams)