Friday Friday is the rarest specimen of African American cinema: a 'hood movie refreshingly free of the semiseriousness and moralism of shoot 'em up soaps such as Boyz N the Hood, yet still true to the inner-city experience. Scripted by rapper Ice Cube, Friday is a no-frills tale of a day in the life of a pair of young blacks in South Central. Cube plays Craig, a frustrated teen who endures the ultimate humiliation: getting fired on his day off. Then unknown Chris Tucker plays Smokey, a marijuana-worshipping homeboy whose love for the green stuff lands him in predicament after predicament. Sitting on the stoop of Craig's rundown home, the two hilariously confront a kaleidoscopic array of gangbangers, weed dealers, crack heads, prostitutes, scheming girlfriends, and neighborhood bullies--all of whom, it should be noted, come off as sympathetic even as they are being caricatured, a true achievement in the crass, "booty call" environment of '90s African American comedy. --Ethan Brown Next Friday Ice Cube wrote and stars as Craig in this sequel to Friday, which he also wrote. His nemesis from that film, neighborhood bully Debo (Tommy "Tiny" Lister Jr.), has just escaped from county jail and is out to get revenge. To protect Craig, Craig's father (John Witherspoon) sends his son to stay with his Uncle Elroy (Don "D.C." Curry), who won the lottery and bought a house in Rancho Cucamonga. Craig expects the suburbs to be dull, but no sooner has he arrived than conflicts arise: The neighbors are hostile hoods, his cousin's girlfriend is out for blood and child support, and the house is about to be seized because of unpaid taxes. It's up to Craig and his cousin Day-Day (Mike Epps) to solve these problems before the day is over. It's a rambling, loose movie, but a genuinely entertaining one. Ice Cube doesn't write punch lines--though funny lines abound. He writes richly comic characters that speak in virtual arias of bragging, complaining, and scamming. Sure, some of the characters are stereotypes and many of the jokes are about drugs and scatology--but that's been the basis of humor since Plautus and Molière. The rhythmic energy of Ice Cube's dialogue and the easy charisma of his performance make Next Friday thoroughly enjoyable. --Bret Fetzer
Now Craig, it's gonna be different living out here. Don't let your Uncle or your cousin get you in any shit. Now you hear me?
Pops I'm grown now, can't nobody get me in trouble no more.
Well I'm glad you said that son, but since you grown, don't bring your black ass back home.