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Friday After Next

Rated R, 85 min. Directed by Marcus Raboy. Starring Ice Cube, Mike Epps, John Witherspoon, Don "D.C." Curry, Anna Maria Horsford, Clifton Powell, Bebe Drake.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Nov. 22, 2002

What's next -- See You Next Shabbat? They could get the Rick Rubin and the Beastie Boys if it weren't for Ice Cube's West Coast-only tag. Friday After Next is the third in the rapper's ongoing comedy cluster examining life, love, and, uh, dope just this side of South Central Los Angeles' notorious Crenshaw Boulevard. It's the same beat-down neighborhood John Singleton first took Cube (and most of the audience) to back in 1991's Boyz N the Hood, but the Cube of then and the Cube of now are two different species. The Friday series is a silly, cornball affair straight through its FUBU and down to its scruffy Nikes, more Cube the entertainer than Cube the star of NWA and scourge of the Daryl Gates' LAPD. Like the rapper's other recent offering, Tim Story's winsome Barbershop, this is ghetto-lite, more concerned with making fun of the hood rats, gangbangers, and Keystone Kops-style law enforcement than in critiquing the status quo. Story's film, at least, stirred some furious debate when several prominent members of the black community felt it spuriously stepped over the line regarding some aspects of black history. Raboy's film (written by Cube and DJ Pooh), on the other hand, isn't going to bug anyone except a few overzealous American pimps who didn't make the cut when the Hughes Brothers were shooting their documentary on the subject. Cube plays Craig Jones, a down-at-the-heels hoodster who divides his time between avoiding his landlady and getting toasted with roommate Day-Day (Epps). Friday After Next takes place at Christmastime, but it's strictly a dismal affair, with a bow-legged crackhead in a threadbare Santa suit sneaking into folks' homes and raiding their holiday stashes. Robbed by this creepy Santa not once but twice, Craig and Day-Day secure jobs as rent-a-cops at the corner strip mall. There they while away the hours busting shoplifters and making friends with Money Mike (Katt Williams), a diminutive dealer of fine pimpery, while Craig's dad (Witherspoon) runs the area barbecue joint. Featuring the slogan, “Meat so good you wanna slap your mama!” is unfortunately indicative of the series' marginally offensive attitude toward women. That may seem like comedy nit-picking, but there's a lot of “bitches and hos” talk scattered throughout the film; Cube is never anything but the suave dawg he is, while most (but not all) of the women are portrayed as scheming, horny golddiggers. Unfortunately, that's too often hip-hop for you. Neither as good as its direct ancestor (Michael Schultz's great 1976 hood masterpiece Car Wash) nor as clever as the original Friday, this is, to put it bluntly, all seeds and stems.
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