Crooklyn is a 1994 semi-autobiographical film co-written and directed by Spike Lee. The film takes place in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York during the summer of 1973. Its primary focus is a young girl, Troy (played by Zelda Harris), and her family. Throughout the film, Troy learns life lessons through her four rowdy brothers, her loving but strict mother (Alfre Woodard), and her naive, struggling father (Delroy Lindo).
A distinctive characteristic of Crooklyn is its soundtrack, composed completely of music from the 1970s, except the hit single "Crooklyn" by the Crooklyn Dodgers, a rap crew composed of Buckshot, Masta Ace, and Special Ed. A two-volume release of the soundtrack became available on CD along with the release of the film.
Similarly to School Daze, Do the Right Thing, and She's Gotta Have It, Spike Lee appears in Crooklyn. He plays a young stoner named Snuffy, who likes to bully the local children.
Crooklyn is the second of only two films directed by Spike Lee to earn a PG-13 rating in the USA, a distinction it shares with Malcolm X.
In 1973, nine-year-old Troy Carmichael and her brothers Clinton, Wendell, Nate, and Joseph live in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. The children live with their parents, Woody, a struggling musician, and Carolyn, a schoolteacher.
The neighborhood is filled with colorful characters. The Carmichaels' next-door neighbor, Tony Eyes continuously sings. Snuffy and Right Hand Man are glue sniffers. Vic Powell is a war vet who lives upstairs from the Carmichaels.
One day, the Carmichael children get into a dispute with Tony who alleges that they are always throwing trash into his area. The argument escalates when Carolyn and several neighborhood children get involved. Tony is still yelling when Vic comes downstairs. Vic then punches Tony in the face. Troy, who has sneaked out to the corner store, sees Vic getting arrested as she leaves the store.
One night, Woody and Carolyn argue about money; Carolyn resents Woody because he isn't earning money as a musician and because he has bounced checks. The argument escalates as Carolyn yells for the children to turn off the television. Carolyn later turns off the TV.
Clinton turns it back on. Carolyn grabs him for disobeying her and Woody grabs her and carries her out of the room. Woody drags Carolyn down the stairs and Nate jumps on Woody's back. The other children hold Carolyn and Carolyn hurts her ankle in the struggle.
Carolyn kicks Woody out of the house. Woody brings flowers to Carolyn and the two reconcile. The family then decides to go on a trip. As they are leaving, a worker from Con Ed comes by to shut off the electricity due to an unpaid bill. The trip is postponed and the family has to use candles for light.
A few days later, Nate and Troy travel to the South to stay with relatives. Troy stays with her cousin, Viola (Patriece Nelson), who was adopted by Uncle Clem and Aunt Song. Troy has fun with Viola despite a dislike of Aunt Song and her dog, Queenie. On Troy's tenth birthday, she gets a letter from Carolyn. After reading the letter, Troy decides she wants to go home.
When Troy returns to New York, she is picked up at the airport by Aunt Maxine and Uncle Brown. Troy later learns her mother is in the hospital and is taken to see her.
Later that evening, Woody tells the kids that their mother has cancer and must stay in the hospital. The boys cry, but Troy remains stoic.
In the next scene, one of Troy's brothers wonder if they have to dress up for their mother's funeral. The day of the funeral, Troy is approached by her Aunt Maxine who tries to coax her into trying on the new clothes she's brought. Troy lashes out angrily then announces that she is not going to the funeral. Woody explains that Carolyn would want them all together at church.
At the house gathering after the funeral, Troy is withdrawn. Joseph comes inside crying, saying that Snuffy and Right Hand Man robbed him. Following her mother's wishes to protect her younger brother, Troy goes outside with a baseball bat and hits Snuffy, telling him to go sniff glue on his own block.
Early the next morning, Troy dreams she's hearing her mother's voice. She goes downstairs to see her father trying to kill a rat in the kitchen. Woody then tells her that its all right to cry, saying that even Clinton has cried. Troy concludes that its good that her mother is no longer suffering.
Troy takes on some of Carolyn's parenting duties and copes with her mother's absence by imagining that her mother is only away and can still write to her.Alfre Woodard - Carolyn Carmichael
Delroy Lindo - Woody Carmichael
Zelda Harris - Troy Carmichael
Carlton Williams - Clinton Carmichael
Sharif Rashed - Wendell Carmichael
Chris Knowings - Nate Carmichael
Tse-Mach Washington - Joseph Carmichael
David Patrick Kelly - Tony Eyes / Jim
José Zúñiga - Tommy La La
Isaiah Washington - Vic Powell
Spike Lee - Snuffy
Frances Foster - Aunt Song
Joie Susannah Lee - Aunt Maxine
Vondie Curtis-Hall - Uncle Brown
Manny Pérez - Hector
RuPaul - Connie the Bodega Woman
Tiasha Reyes - Minnie
Patrice Nelson - Viola
The movie debuted at number three at the box office.