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Thank God, It's 'Next Friday'

By Michael O'Sullivan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 14, 2000

   


    'Next Friday' Mike Epps (left) plays Ice Cube's cousin in "Next Friday." (New Line)
Forget all those other movies about decent, hardworking African Americans like "The Best Man," "The Wood," "Woo," "Hav Plenty," "Soul Food" and "Eve's Bayou." Stories like those are nothing but buppie baloney in the ghetto fabulous worldview of "Next Friday," a riotous burlesque of the black underclass whose myopic but hysterical vision extends no further than the dense cloud of marijuana smoke hovering in front of its protagonists' faces will allow.

This hilarious sequel to "Friday" – whose plot centered around the half-hearted efforts of a couple of pot-addled front-stoop slackers to stay stoned and not get killed by a South Central L.A. bully – follows the same winning formula as the wildly successful 1995 comedy. Rapper-actor Ice Cube is back as the chronically unemployed Craig and John Witherspoon returns as his flatulent dog-catcher father.

Hulking monolith Tommy "Tiny" Lister Jr., is once again suitably scary as the sadistic Debo, the tough whose inner-city reign of terror was cut short at the end of the first movie by a well-placed smack upside the head from Craig.

Having just busted out of jail (where presumably he has languished since the first film), Debo is hellbent on revenge as "Next Friday" opens, forcing Craig to take refuge at the home of his Lotto-rich Uncle Elroy (Don "D.C." Curry) in what Craig calls the "fake-ass Brady Bunch" suburb of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. (Special acclaim is due to writer/producer Ice Cube for recognizing the untapped comic potential of that name.)

What's missing this time around is manic comedian Chris Tucker as Craig's reefer-mad pal Smokey (the character's absence is explained by the fact that he is in drug rehab), but young stand-up comic Mike Epps is a more than adequate substitute as Craig's squirrelly cousin Day-Day. In addition to hiding from Debo, Craig and Day-Day hatch a dangerous plot to come up with the money for Elroy's late property tax payments by stealing from the drug dealers next door, a trio of squat Latino thugs named Joker (Jacob Vargas), Little Joker (Lobo Sebastian) and Baby Joker (Rolando Molina). That they all travel around in a low rider, talk like Cheech Marin from his pre-"Nash Bridges" days and intimidate the neighborhood with a pit bull named Chico who looks like a fist with a face painted on it is only one of the milder ethnic caricatures here.

Rest assured, though, that even without the magic ingredient of Tucker, "Next Friday" has everything you loved about last "Friday." Profanity and bathroom humor abound, as does misogynist comedy based on female characters who are alternately voracious sex machines, angry bitches or physically compliant love toys. And have I mentioned that there is lots – and I do mean lots – of dope smoking?

Sure, its political incorrectness is flagrant and its lack of politesse is inexcusable. But unless you're campaigning for public office, you may just have to make a point of seeing this movie twice – once to find out of you've got the stomach for its brand of delciously low comedy and a second time to catch all the filth you missed because half the laugh lines were drowned out by your neighbor busting a gut in the seat next to you.

NEXT FRIDAY (R, 93 minutes) – Contains obscenity, drug use, scatological and sexual humor and comic violence.


© Copyright 2000 The Washington Post Company


 

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