Movie Review: Friday (1995)
“a lot can go down between thursday and saturday…”
Director: F. Gary Gray
Cast: Ice Cube, Chris Tucker, Nia Long
Synopsis: Two unemployed young men try to figure out how they can raise the $200 they owe a drug dealer as they watch the world go by from the front porch of a house.
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Ice Cube and Chris Tucker spend most of their time sitting on a porch waiting for the plot to make an appearance in F. Gary Gray’s cult 1995 comedy, Friday. Craig (Cube – Rampart, 21 Jump Street) and Smokey (Tucker – House Party 3, Rush Hour) are a couple of young men whose lack of work leaves them with little to do other than watch the comings and goings of Craig’s neighbours from the aforementioned porch of the modest family home of his parents. Even though he had a day off, Craig was fired from his job the day before, so, for him, having nothing to do is something of an unwelcome change of pace. That’s not the case for Smokey, though; he’s a loafer who scratches out a meagre living selling weed for local criminal Big Worm (Faizon Love – The Meteor Man, The Paperboy). The trouble is, he’s a little too fond of the merchandise he’s supposed to be selling, so having smoked most of the weed Big Worm gave him, he now has to come up with $200 by the end of the day or face the violent consequences.
You’d think having that kind of deadline hanging over him would galvanise Smokey into action, but it doesn’t. His efforts to get the money together are desultory at best, and sandwiched between long periods during which he finishes off what remains of Big Worm’s weed while pulling faces and talking nonsense in a loud, high-pitched voice. Meanwhile, a ragtag collection of diverse neighbours flit in and out of screen as the movie strives to create the impression that each and every one of them is a whole lot more interesting than your neighbours or mine. So, we have the shapely temptress watering her garden in ways designed to draw attention to her tight behind and full cleavage, a female junkie who’s always on the scrounge for major household appliances to borrow, and a Neanderthal-like thug named Deebo (Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister – The Dark Knight, Zootopia) who routinely relieves his neighbours of their valuables and has his own Jaws-like signature tune.
The script, co-written by Cube and DJ Pooh, struggles to find material of decent enough quality to fill its brief running time, and what laughs are to be found come more from incidental characters than Craig or Smokey, who are almost never off-screen. A number of the characters are black stereotypes who would be deemed racially offensive if the movie had been created by a white writer, but who simply come across as crude caricatures in Cube and Pooh’s inexperienced hands, and an incongruous tonal shift in Friday’s final reel – which at least finally shakes things up – serves only to emphasise the vaguely slapdash feel of the whole production.
(Reviewed 24th July 2016)
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