Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Friday After Next

Perhaps the most ironic aspect of Jesse Jackson's misguided call for a Barbershop boycott is that the film is exactly the sort of socially conscious, community-minded, family-friendly fare whose scarcity the civil-rights leader has long lamented. Singling out Barbershop for criticism while ignoring the bottom-feeding likes of 3 Strikes and The Wash speaks to Jackson's self-serving take on popular culture, particularly in light of the ugliness of films like Friday After Next. The third entry in the Friday series, Friday After Next marks a huge step backward from Barbershop for Ice Cube, the star of both films and the newer film's screenwriter. Goofus to Barbershop's Gallant, Friday After Next superficially resembles its recent predecessor, which borrowed its basic format from Car Wash by way of the original Friday. But where Barbershop found the humanity and pathos in its affectionately drawn ghetto archetypes, Friday After Next views its characters as walking punch lines to be trotted out, humiliated, and discarded. Following Next Friday's sojourn to the suburbs, Friday After Next returns to the hood, where Cube and sass-talking sidekick Mike Epps take seasonal jobs at a strip mall teeming with colorful characters. Friday breakout star Chris Tucker is once again missing in action, but much of the rest of the cast has returned, with the notable exception of Tommy "Tiny" Lister, who has been replaced by a musclebound doppelgänger whose propensity for anal rape is played for laughs. Friday After Next could benefit from a touch of Barbershop's humanism, particularly since its comic volume seldom falls below a banshee-like wail. John Murphy's sleigh-bell-intensive score helps keep Friday After Next bearable, but the film's attitude toward Christmas is better embodied by the drunken, belligerent burglar in a Santa suit, and the use of a Christmas tree as a blunt weapon in two separate scenes. Friday After Next is marginally better than its predecessor, but only because Next Friday lowered standards so far that only a homemade cockfighting video would have failed to surpass it.

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