Poetic Justice

Synopsis: Poetic Justice is a 1993 American romantic drama film starring Janet Jackson and Tupac Shakur with Regina King and Joe Torry. It was written and directed by John Singleton. The main character, Justice, writes poems which she recites throughout the movie. The poems featured in the film were written by Maya Angelou, and Angelou also appears in the film as one of the three elderly sisters whom the characters meet at a roadside family reunion. The Last Poets make an appearance toward the end of the film. Poetic Justice reached #1 in the box office its opening weekend, grossing $11,728,455. It eventually grossed a total of $27,515,786.
Genre: Drama, Romance
Production: Columbia Pictures Corporation
  Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 4 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
109 min


1 INT FANCY NEW YORK APARTMENT--DINING ROOM--NIGHT Where we see a romantic scene

played out between a man and

a woman. Both are white. The couple have just finished a candlelit dinner.

You like your wine? Want s'more?

She nods her approval.

Mmmmm you're good. Candles, dinner, wine. What's next?

He grins.

Let me set the mood.

He goes over to the stereo to turn it on. The Isley Brothers' "Between the

Sheets" emanates from the speakers. Brad crosses to the

couch and into a position in which to kiss Penelope. He does, and the sound of

"Between the Sheets" is invaded by the remix of A

Tribe Called Quest's "Bonita Applebum."


Two lines of cars wait to enter the drive-in. The heavy bass sounds of hip-hop

music mingle in the air with that of the many window

speakers that plag the movie. In the background we can see the couple in the

previous scene kissing on a large movie screen. An

LAPD helicopter flies overhead, transcending us into the next shot. Welcome back

to South Central Los Angeles.


Overhead we see a shaft of Light coming from the drive-in's projector. As we

move past a few cars, their inhabitants are all in various

threes of sexual foreplay. Some are kissing; others are actually making love.

All the windows are steamed up. We hear the voices of

the females as the men grunt, groan, moan, and beg over their bodies. Love is in

the air.

CAR #1:
Don't bite me so hard! You gotta be more gentle.

CAR #2 (softly):
Use your tongue. Just use your tongue.

CAR #3 (with heated passion): Ohhhh! Oh, yes, ohhh! Oww! I'm sticking to the


We come to last car, whose windows are crystal clear. Things are just beginning

to heat up between the couple inside the car. The

woman is an "around the way" honey with soft brown skin, full brown eyes, and

nice delicious full lips. This is Justice, who at

seventeen is still looking for her place in the world. The lucky man kissing her

is her boyfriend, Markell, a small-time drug dealer and

former gangsta. Justice reluctantly accepts his advances, but she ain't having

it. There is a window speaker, from which the sound of

the movie Alters into the car.

C'mon, let's get in the back seat.

No, Markell, why can't we just watch the movie?

'Cause it's boring.

He goes to kiss her again. This time, it's a nice, long, juicy powerhouse kiss

that causes the Richter scale to jump two points. Justice

appears obviously affected. She asks the inevitable question.

Markell, do you love me?

Of course I love you.

Why? Tell me why you love me.

MARKELL (looks around): Now?

Yeah, right now.

There is a pause. He thinks.

Okay, I love you because you too fine.

Is that it?


Justice looks dissatisfied.

Can I have some sugar? Some butter? Some sweets?

No, not yet. Get me some popcorn.

Markell 's face drops.


Markell relents and gets out of the car. He takes two steps, turns on a heel,

and leans into the car again.

Hey, Justice! I was just thinking. I also love you 'cause when I was in

tha county jail, you wrote me a lotta sweet poems.

Justice grins. Markell smiles and blows her a kiss good-bye.


There are only a few customers in line; all are Black or Hispanic. Markell gets

in line, and time slows down. We notice the abruptness

of the popcorn popping like gunshots, the sound and motion of the gurgling

Orange Bang machine, and two thugs who stand in the

corner talking to each other. Markell seems noticeably nervous at their


THE COUNTER Where Markell finally arrives at the front of the line.

THE CORNER Where one of the two thugs looks across the room at Markell. For a

moment it looks as though he recognizes Markell.

He turns back to continue to talk with his friend. A fight breaks out in another

corner, and everyone's attention is drawn in that


BACK TO COUNTER Markell completes his transaction amidst the mayhem and walks

away popcorn in hand. In the corner, the thug

looks back toward the counter. On his face we see he now recalls where he has

seen Markell before.

5 INT/EXT COMPTON DRIVE-IN---THE CAR--NIGHT Markell comes back to the car,

glancing behind his back every so often.

MARKELL (looking over his left shoulder): I think I saw these fools that Pete

and I got beef with.

Markell turns to notice that Justice is not in the passenger seat. Justice leans

up from the back seat to kiss his cheek and tenderly run

her fingers around Markell's neck and shoulder. We notice her long fingernails.

Markell laughs and places the popcorn on the

dashboard. Our attention is drawn to the passenger window, where the drive-in

speaker hangs. Romantic movie music flows into the

car. On the driver's side the window is open. Suddenly, a pistol is placed next

to Markell's head. Time slows down. The gun is fired.

Justice screams. The popcorn scatters, and the passenger window breaks from the

traveling bullet. Time resumes. Justice's screams

turn to a whimper. There is blood on her hands. The drive-in speaker has now

fallen on the passenger seat. We hear the romantic

movie playing in the background.

OVERHEAD As we PULL UP and away from the car. There are people running and

screaming in every direction, and cars are leaving.

These sounds overlap into TITLE CARD: POETIC JUSTICE: The sun rises behind the


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John Singleton

John Daniel Singleton (born January 6, 1968) is an American film director, screenwriter, and producer best known for directing Boyz n the Hood. For the film, he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director, becoming the first African American and youngest person to have ever been nominated for the award. Singleton is a native of South Los Angeles and many of his early films, such as Poetic Justice (1993), Higher Learning (1995), and Baby Boy (2001), consider the implications of inner-city violence. Some of his other films include dramas such as Rosewood (1997) in addition to action films such as Shaft (2000), 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003), and Four Brothers (2005). more…

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