DVD Review
Friday After Next
Friday After Next poster
By Lee Tistaert     Published April 18, 2003
US Release: November 22, 2002

Directed by: Marcus Raboy
Starring: Ice Cube , John Witherspoon

Running Time: 85 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $32,984,000
133 of 143
Never resulted in a single laugh or smirk from me
Despite somewhat of a frenetic tone, Friday after Next never resulted in a single laugh or smirk from me. And for a film labeled as a comedy, that?s pretty sad.

The problem with the Hollywood system is that if your film is solidly produced in terms of filmmaking and is a big success whether in theaters or with home video/DVD returns, the subject of sequels is prone to be brought up by your producer(s) and/or studio. Now, that is not entirely a bad thing, as there definitely have been installments following the original that have proved to be better than their initial story (Terminator 2, and possibly Aliens).
But it is when the further editions of the story don?t take into account the foundation of its principle idea when things start to go unfriendly. That is, they simply go for ticket sale revenue without intelligence, aiming for a moviegoing experience that doesn?t recall what allowed the previous fables (or original roots) to be so rewarding or entertaining.

The original Friday was both well made and very entertaining being as though the actors, despite carrying stoner and no-life roles, knew their parts and acted them appropriately. Director F. Gary Gray knew how to cover the script in style, where his approach didn?t necessarily rely on directorial tricks but more so to make the actors stand as the spotlight. Friday was a mostly character film in which its members were the highlight, not the action.

Regardless of its loose subject matter, the film worked quite well in a comedic standpoint, as it managed to deliver appealing and sympathetic protagonists (thanks to the script and acting execution) at the same time as not telling much and still maintaining interest via the ongoing dialogue between its personas. It wasn?t deep, but it was enjoyable and sometimes downright hysterical. In fact, the flick may be considered as one of the better no-life comedies to be made in recent time, with the Coen brothers? Big Lebowski earning top honors in that category as well.

Since Friday was such a cultural smash hit, it was no surprise that Ice Cube would write another installment to the well-adored original. The only problem was that he either forgot to realize the essentials of sequel basics or didn?t care enough to live by the rules, or maybe the indirect guidelines of which moviegoers hold. With Next Friday, Cube made what could?ve been the largest mistake for the follow-up: leaving out Chris Tucker. For any hardcore fan of any franchise, it is generally a common rule that the filmmakers maintain every major star they can for the deepest fulfillment level. Keeping the entire cast, unless killed off in the previous edition, could possibly be the strongest principle of them all; of course, the script being worthy is up there as well.

But with that sequel, Tucker refused to sign on (for religious purposes). What does Cube do? He replaces Tucker and moves on with the show. I understand that as filmmakers of a very successful initial flick, one can have agonizing pressures to come up with another installment to please the higher (studio) figures that are counting on your efforts. So be it. We can forgive and maybe even forget, but that all comes with the rollout of the contributions as well. That is where Next Friday goofed up; it forgot the basics of the original and didn?t even hold a plot reminiscent of Cube?s founding concept (co-created by D.J. Pooh).

It was simply an opportunity to tell another story with a few of the same characters and actors, but didn?t follow through with a solid amount of grace or achievement. It was what film critics might label as sequelized, a desperate attempt at keeping the fable alive but not doing so with worthy components in hand. It was not only disappointing but rather embarrassing, for real fans very well knew Ice Cube could play it right if he really put forth the effort. Instead, the actor/comedian constructed a script that may have held the same name as its predecessor, but deep down beneath the surface there was little alike.

With Friday after Next, Cube?s third installment of the hugely popular franchise, the situation is much like the first sequel yet even worse. Yet again, there is no Chris Tucker, but one Mike Epps who presumably is Cube?s good friend lately, as the two starred in another poorly developed action/comedy, All About the Benjamins, as well as Next Friday. Epps may be good at blurting out a la Chris Tucker, but the material he?s given is at rock bottom, let alone the performance. And his on-screen presence, unlike Tucker, is not eye-catching nor sparkling (with life) to any degree. He?s an annoyance that does make you realize the movie?s still playing, as his voice is audible and his irritating antics are clearly visible.

He comes across as that struggling stand-up comic on Hollywood Blvd. who hasn?t found his groundbreaking spotlight yet but feels as if he should have. Luckily for him, Epps is good friends with someone who is not only in the business, but who has the physical ability to construct a film/comedy with the flick of his fingers and have a studio distribute it. Without the presence of Ice Cube on the planet, Epps could have been troubled in career.

But Mike Epps? presence in the comedy is only one of the film?s many defects. Quite possibly its largest flaw is the humor, or shall I say the lack thereof. The flick does have hilarity attempts; it has quite a lot of them; that is, if your intelligence is at the bottom of the ocean with the fishies. If you?re one who can form a grin or a chuckle from the simple observation of foul language/behavior without any solid bridge of reasoning attached, then Friday after Next may in fact be for you. And trust me, foul behavior can be funny, but here four letter words are thrown out like candy and without any passion for the ability to speak it.

A screenwriter can use foul techniques effectively within a script and have it come off hilarious. But when the MPAA status is abused, which this sequel has violated menacingly, rather than feeling witty or clever it feels hugely unnecessary and quite offensive. And when I mention the latter quality, I don?t cue to the fact that I?m offended by such words; I?m a big boy, I can handle that.

The offensive nature of the flick is that it tries to make you believe that just because there are nasty words and phrases being thrown out every twenty seconds (if not more often), it?s going to get you to laugh. And in this case, one?s intelligence can be insulted and so can the screenwriter at bat, as it makes us wonder if the guy who wrote this story found anything amusing at all; if he did, it?s a terrifying thought.

But my uneasy feelings regarding the state-of-being of the screenwriter fades away when I look at other projects of his like Barbershop, Three Kings, and Boyz N the Hood, which are all intelligent and very nicely made. Cube rebounds a bit in that thinking mode, but the precise reason he went through with this (Friday after Next), if just in the verbal division, is something I would like answered some day. People screw up, so I?m willing to look on; but something tells this occasion will show up at least once more in the future.

Despite from being unfunny, Friday after Next lacks a real story. The original didn?t have much of one, but it proved that plots can in fact be over-rated; if you place amiable characters/actors with humorous dialogue and convincing interactions, entertainment can indeed flow. The original Friday is a good example of a minimalist comedy that works surprisingly well in execution, as it takes place mostly on one street yet gathers consistent engagement due to the amusement of its characters. Friday after Next is the same scenario in that it occurs mostly in one locale/area, but misses all the components the original offered on the table.

Here, the script is nowhere near as well developed, the only reason to part with the protagonists is because we know them already, and the actors don?t focus on comedic chemistry; they focus on being loud, aggressive, and relentless. But Ice Cube is hoping that due to the stars in front of our eyes, audiences will enjoy the experience being as though it?s two familiar faces with a franchise that is very recognizable. American Pie 2 barely held a plot and reunited all the legendary characters from the initial release, yet it followed through with enough laughs and compassionate people within the story to allow connection (between the viewer and the characters) to once again return.

With the second Friday sequel, it has none of that; while we may take notice of a few players in the story whom are back again, their parts are insignificant, much like the highlight duo themselves. And when we get tired of our heroes quickly, it?s a crash landing for the entire production.

In Friday after Next, the story surrounds the classic Craig character, played by Ice Cube, and his roommate, Day-Day (Mike Epps), as their rent money is stolen from a burglar in the opening act. From there on out, the goal is simple: they must get the stash back in order to keep their living quarters. Mike Judge proudly convinced the world that a paper thin plot can produce a hell of a fun time with Beavis & Butthead Do America, which centered on two dimwit high school students in search of their stolen television set.

The script, while bearing idiotic ambitions, was nevertheless witty in a stupidly goofball way; we were lead on a journey that could?ve easily been with two annoying characters for its short 75 minutes. The adventure resulted in a thoroughly enjoyable experience that could even make one beg for more screen time or yet another installment.

Friday after Next, on the opposite end, makes 85 minutes of screen time feel like an eternity. I cannot express how many times I looked at the running time clock on my DVD player throughout its duration, since the number is so very high. Literally every scene lacks a real point to make; that is, up until the climax where the real core of the film takes center attention once again (but really, only briefly). The two main characters, acting as security guards for their new jobs, keep on talking and pulling off acts in public that would make any human with a soul in the same boundary call "real" security on them in a heartbeat. They?re persistently agitating, which is definitely not a comment one should make regarding the people we?re expected to root for.

The film plays as if it?s a video game where its members go from one level to the next, even if most of the plot revolves around the same relative location. They torment one group of people, then get in trouble elsewhere, all at the same time as trying to maintain their eventual goal: to retrieve their rent money. But in all video games, there is always an end no matter how many levels there are to accomplish. And I think it?s time for Ice Cube and clan to finally realize that yes, it?s definitely game over.

DVD Features:
- Commentary by director Marcus Raboy, producer Matt Alvarez, and Ice Cube
- Commentary by cast
- Fact Track - Infini Film's trivia subtitled and instant access viewing feature
- 4 Documentaries
- Microphone Fiend: From Stage to Screen
- It Was a Good Day: The Franchise
- Ghetto Fabulous: Costume Design
- The Pork Report: Authentic BBQ
- Deleted Scenes w/ commentary
- Gag Reel
- Hump Day: production featurette
- Holiday in the Hood: Production design featurette
- Music video
- Trailers
- DVD-Rom links
- Full-screen and widescreen formats
Lee's Grade: D+
Ranked #133 of 143 between The Santa Clause 2 (#132) and The New Guy (#134) for 2002 movies.
Lee's Overall Grading: 2976 graded movies
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