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‘Friday’

By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
April 28, 1995

 


Director:
F. Gary Gray
Cast:
Ice Cube;
Chris Tucker;
Bernie Mac;
Tiny Lister Jr.;
Paula Jai Parker;
Faizon Love;
LaWanda Page
R
profanity, lasciviousness, toilet humor, marijuana smoking and minor violence


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"Friday," a comedy starring Ice Cube and Chris Tucker, is dirty, offensive, infantile and may launch a few sanctimonious opinion columns. And I mean that in the nicest way. The movie, which shamelessly hawks its own "Friday" music video at the beginning and eschews political correctness whenever possible, happens to be incredibly funny.

The African American culture comedy has become a banality on movie screens and TV sitcoms. Culturally, the ubiquitousness may be progress. But artistically, it has caused stagnation—either because of movies that are pointlessly crude, racist, violent and sexist, or TV shows that are bland or top-heavy with public-message mongering.

"Friday," written by Cube and longtime friend DJ Pooh and directed by F. Gary Gray, is blissfully free of preaching. And despite the energetic pleasure the movie takes in the crudest travails of underclass life, this caper has a nice, leisurely, even sweet atmosphere.

In a south-central L.A. neighborhood where drug dealing and burglary are committed with the casualness of a stroll in the park, homeboy Craig (played by Cube) languishes in his parents' home. On this particular Friday, he has just been fired (wrongly, he says). His father (the hyper, amusing John Witherspoon) continues to bug him for rent money. His girlfriend is annoying, obnoxious and jealous. And there's a gargantuan bully (Tiny "Zeus" Lister Jr.) who stalks the community on a bicycle (to quasi-"Jaws" music on the soundtrack) and hits up everyone for their money or jewelry.

To top things off, Cube's dope-fried pal Tucker (appropriately called Smokey), who tends to smoke what he's supposed to be selling, has landed both of them in hot water with the local dealer. Tucker and Ice Cube—whom the dealer considers culpable by association—have to cough up $200 by the end of the evening, or get "capped." It's just another casual, life-threatening day in the neighborhood.

"Friday" indulges without restraint in almost everything that can raise eyebrows, including the ogling of women (although the females—for a genre like this—are relatively empowered), toilet gags, profane street talk and drug use. But all of these things serve the humor. When we meet Tucker, for instance, he has just developed a hilarious twitch because two friends fed him a joint full of PCP. His involuntary body jerks normally would be cause for alarm, but here they constitute great physical comedy. Throughout the most hysterical developments (which include a little gunfire and a climactic fistfight), Cube gives the movie a comfortable, relaxed center. Always an able, likable performer with that puppy scowl and those arched eyebrows, he takes to comedy effortlessly. Even though he plays straight man to over-the-top Tucker, he's really the one who brings this movie home.

FRIDAY (R) — Contains profanity, lasciviousness, toilet humor, marijuana smoking and minor violence.

   
© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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