Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Next Friday

The 1995 film Friday was a sleeper hit that introduced hyper-kinetic comedian Chris Tucker to the world, jumpstarted the career of director F. Gary Gray (Set It Off, The Negotiator), and helped prove the existence of a sizable audience for comedies about black life. Though not much of a movie, Friday coasts along pleasantly on the novelty of its subject matter—few comedies before it featured gags about drive-by shootings and crackheads—and the boundless energy and charisma of Tucker. Tucker is nowhere to be found in the film's disappointing sequel, and it suffers greatly from his absence. Minus his over-the-top antics, Next Friday feels lazy and shapeless, less a continuation of the Friday saga than a limp remake. Despite its title, Next Friday takes place not one week later, but several years after the first film. Following rumors that his nemesis (Tom "Tiny" Lister Jr.) plans to escape from prison, Ice Cube is sent to live with his uncle in the suburbs. Such a premise would seem ripe with culture-clash possibilities, but Ice Cube (who wrote the script) has curiously chosen to have his character and his sidekicks interact mainly with a group of Latino gangbangers who could just as easily have lived next to his family in the ghetto. The first Friday didn't exactly boast a screenplay of Shakespearian complexity, but it's a model of structure and ingenuity compared to this directionless mess. Next Friday features plenty of the tasteless stereotyping found in too many lowbrow urban comedies, but its desperate failure to amuse is its most offensive feature.


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