Reviewed by Mike Emery, Fri., Sept. 1, 2000
FridayD. F. Gary Gray (1995); with Ice Cube, Chris Tucker, John Witherspoon, Nia Long, Tiny Lister Jr., Bernie Mac.
Who would have thought living in the inner city would be a laugh riot? While it's safe to say that much of Friday is overblown comic hype, Ice Cube and D.J. Pooh's screenplay illustrates that not all hood movies have to be message movies. As the film opens, we learn that Cube's character, Craig, has just been laid off. With that, he has the entire day to hang out with buddy Smokey (Tucker). Among their misadventures are trying to hook up with babes, smoking marijuana, watching the neighborhood tramp in action, and avoiding the local bully Deebo (Lister). For the most part, laughs come in the form of stoner jokes, vulgar bathroom humor, and exaggerated characters. Tucker is fairly amusing as the hyper-stoner who's going nowhere fast, and Cube is surprisingly credible as the mild-mannered yet impressionable Craig. Together, their chemistry is quite fluid, and combined with the film's standout cast (particularly Witherspoon as Craig's exasperated father), Friday is filled with memorable faces and above-average sitcom buffoonery. Toward the film's conclusion, there is a violent confrontation to accentuate the fact that South Central Los Angeles is also a place where both bullets and fists fly at any given moment. The sequence is a wake-up call of sorts, but doesn't distract from the film's jocular tone or outrageous characterizations.