Directed by Steve Carr
Review by Matt Heffernan
1995's Friday was an amusing sleeper about a day in the life of a couple of guys in South-Central Los Angeles, sort of like Clerks N the Hood. It had a modest box office take, but has become a cult favorite on video. The writer/producer/star of the first film, the multi-talented rapper Ice Cube, has now parlayed that belated success into writing, producing, and starring in a sequel.
If you didn't see the first film, Next Friday gets you caught up quickly. This film takes place (you guessed it) one week after the action of the first film. Craig Jones (Ice Cube) moves out of the city to avoid Deebo (Tom "Tiny" Lister, Jr.), who has escaped from prison. Last week, Craig knocked him out with a brick, and the cops arrested him on outstanding charges. Now he wants revenge to restore his reputation. So, Craig moves in with his uncle Elroy (Don "DC" Curry), who won the lottery and now owns a big house in Rancho Cucamonga.
Craig spends the day hanging around with his cousin: Day-Day (Mike Epps). He meets their neighbors, including a gang of Hispanic brothers called "The Jokers" and their sister, Karla (Lisa Rodríguez). Craig tries to get her attention, but there is a more serious problem at hand. Elroy and Day-Day have spent nearly all their money, and the house is going on the auction block unless they pay $3900 in back taxes.
Fans of the first film should not be disappointed, because Next Friday provides yet another 90 minutes of low-brow fun. What is seriously lacking, though, is the comic presence of Chris Tucker, who was the heart of the first film, which made him a star. Apparently, he's such a big a star that they had to come up with a lame excuse for his absence in the beginning. At least John Witherspoon reprised his hilarious role of Craig's father.
Ice Cube proves again that he is a competent comedy writer (surprising, really, given his songwriting style), but this screenplay just isn't as consistent. The first half rehashes the last film with style, until the third act. That's where the film gets a little too involved in its silly plot, instead of maintaining the playful tone it started with. Perhaps this is because of the direction of Steve Carr, a novice to features. The director of Friday, F. Gary Gray, has also gone on to bigger things, such as his acclaimed film The Negotiator.
Certainly, from a critical standpoint, this film is artistically deficient. But, the audience I saw it with was the perfect target, and they loved it. So my first review of a 2000 film has a pretty decent subject. Let's just hope the year improves from here.
For more information, go to the Internet Movie Database:
Next Friday (2000)
Video Pick of the Week
Guide to Star Ratings
Review © 2000 Matt Heffernan