FRIDAY AFTER NEXT
***1/2 (out of 5)
November 22, 2002
Ice Cube as CRAIG JONES
Mike Epps as DAY-DAY
John Witherspoon as MR. JONES
D.C. Curry as UNCLE ELROY
Anna Maria Horsford as MRS. JONES
Directed by: Marcus Raboy
BY KEVIN CARR
Before you read this review, take a look at my picture. As you see, I’m not exactly someone you’d describe as “ghetto.” I’m about the whitest man you’ll ever know. On the COOL meter, Ice Cube rates a 10, and I’m at the bottom right below Conan O’Brien and Garry Shandling. But I’ve gotta admit it. I really liked “Friday After Next.”
The filmmakers of the “Friday” films tout the strong crossover success of the first sequel, “Next Friday,” and they attribute that to the fact that they just did what they thought was funny – not what was funny to any racial cross section, but just what was funny. They’ve done it again – and better – with “Friday After Next.”
This latest Friday takes Craig Jones (Ice Cube) back to the ghetto, where he lives with his cousin Day Day (Mike Epps) and their Latino gangster dog Chico. A ghetto Santa (later described as Bobby Brown on crack in a Santa outfit) busts into Craig and Day Day’s apartment and steals all their Christmas presents and their rent money.
After a visit from the ever-popular LAPD, who confiscate their “medicinal” marijuana plant, Craig and Day Day get a visit from the hairy-lipped landlady demanding the back rent by the end of the day. Forget that it’s Christmas Eve on a Friday; Craig and Day Day are more terrified of the landlady’s ex-convict son who had somewhat of a sexual awakening after twelve years behind bars showing with men.
Craig and Day Day start their new job as security guards at a local strip mall, hoping to get an advance on their first paycheck to cover the rent.
Of course, you get what you’ve come to expect from the “Friday” movies – jokes about smoking pot, convicts from prison trying to whip Craig’s butt, sexcapades from Uncle Elroy (D.C. Curry), and rancid bathroom humor courtesy of Mr. Jones (John Witherspoon).
Sure, like any film, there are plot holes, dead spots and unfunny moments, but these are rare and forgivable. Like the other “Friday” films, the supporting cast runs frenzied circles around Ice Cube. However, what’s different here is that Cube seems to have realized that the film is less about him than his castmates.
One of the strengths of the “Friday” movies is this outrageous supporting cast, and many of them return for another “Friday” (although more return from “Next Friday” than “Friday”). We welcome back Uncle Elroy, Mr. Jones and Pinky. Plus, there are new characters in the “Friday” family, including a standout performance by Katt Williams as Money Mike, the proprietor of “Pimps and Hos,” an outrageous clothing store. Money Mike is like Prince on speed wearing a club kid outfit.
Mike Epps is more articulate in this film as Day Day. Not that he is a Rhodes Scholar now, but compared to his debut in “Next Friday,” there was only one direction for him to go. Seriously, though, his comic timing has improved in the past two years, and he and Ice Cube have a better chemistry and more smoother than before.
Another improvement in chemistry is from the rest of the extended “Friday” family, who all seem one step from a nervous breakdown. Many of the funniest scenes get their strength from the characters yelling at freaking out all over each other. Where this was annoying and disingenuous in “Next Friday,” in “Friday After Next,” the chemistry works and builds at a frenetic, hyperactive pace. Jokes are thrown at you from all directions, and the movie manages to juggle several storylines, like a ghetto “Seinfeld” episode.
Of course, the biggest requirement for seeing “Friday After Next” is to see it with a black audience if you can to really get into the fun. Unlike a touching drama that would demand absolute quiet in the theater, “Friday After Next” relies on audience participation, a cultural phenomenon that average suburban white audiences haven’t quite figured out yet. Sure, talking back to the screen and hooting and hollering would be annoying if you’re watching “2001: A Space Odyssey.” But this is “Friday After Next,” so just have some fun.