Friday After Next

Friday After Next (2002)
Director: Marcus Raboy
Starring: Ice Cube, Mike Epps

To the delight of some (and horror of others), the third installment of the Friday series, Friday After Next, hits theatres just in time for the holidays. The series’ second film, Next Friday, was a wild disappointment, and the smart money would have odds against the third installment faring much better. Surprisingly, Friday After Next admirably returns to the quick wit and big guffaws of the original 1995 offering.

This time around, Friday has a decidedly Christmas theme, as cousins Craig (Ice Cube) and Day-Day (Mike Epps) have finally moved out of their parents homes and into their own apartment back in the hood. The pre-title sequence depicts a not-so-friendly visit from a present-stealing Santa Claus, making off with Craig and Day-Day’s holiday gifts and, more importantly, rent money, which happens to be due later that day.

While the film puffs along through the first 15 minutes through repetition of many of the series’ legendary lines and sight gags, Friday After Next picks up dramatically for the balance of the movie. As Craig and Day-Day dive deeper and deeper into trouble the pace of film nearly flies out of control yet is always arrested by Friday’s utter stupidity.

Along with the ever-solid Ice Cube, John Witherspoon, as Craig’s dad, Mr. Jones, turns in another classic performance consistent with his scene-stealing efforts in the previous two Fridays. Along the way, he delights audiences through an over-the-top recitation of his most famous line in Eddie Murphy’s 1992 hit, Boomerang.

Assuming a role reminiscent of Tom “Tiny” Lister’s Deebo from the first two Friday flicks, is Terry Crews as Damon, the “bully-with-a-twist” son of Craig and Day-Day’s rent-hungry landlord. In classic Friday fashion, Craig and company land in short term financial trouble and must resort to intra-day hijinks to escape the advances of Damon who, amongst other pursuits, is intent on collecting his mother’s rent.

Though still not as good as the original, Friday After Next is a circuitous riot with laugh-out-loud sketches involving BBQ brothers, whistle-toting security guards, a series’ first mini-pimp, the return of record mogul, Pinky, and everyone’s favorite pit bull, Chico.

Written by Ice Cube, Friday After Next is a fine return to the straight, albeit crude, comedy of the first film. Though Chris Tucker has moved on to bigger (and potentially better things), the supporting cast and breakneck screenplay hold the film together throughout. Though not a work of any cinematic significance, Friday After Next is the perfect vehicle for those in need of an hour and a half of mindless entertainment.