Wednesday, January 12, 2000

Next Friday

Posted By on Wed, Jan 12, 2000 at 12:00 AM

Audiences could have waited another five years for a goofy, crap-smeared sequel to Friday (1995). Who knows, maybe by then Ice Cube could have persuaded Chris Tucker to make a return appearance to give Steve Carr’s Next Friday a much-needed dose of clever comedy. Because there sure ain’t a heck of a lot going on between this Thursday and Saturday.

Hood-dweller Craig Jones (Ice Cube) shows up on the suburban porch step of his Uncle Elroy’s (Don "DC" Curry) lottery-funded estate in Rancho Cucamonga – only to find, of course, that life in a sunny subdivision can be much more dangerous than on the shady streets of the ghetto.

Craig’s father (John Witherspoon), an animal control worker with no sense of smell and a penchant for extra-spicy burritos, kicks off this homespun comedy by doing a back flop onto a glistening pile of doggie-do, which he wears on his blue coveralls for the remainder of the movie. He leaves Craig in the company of his flamboyant uncle, Elroy’s flashy girlfriend, Suga (Kym E. Whitley), and a would-be-player cousin, Day-Day (Mike Epps), who delivers most of the funny lines in the movie.

Next Friday turns into the sequel that didn’t need to happen, as a flat story framed in predictable comic stunts struggles to unfold. Craig wants the beautiful girl next door, Karla (Lisa Rodriguez), but she is well guarded by three gang members (her brothers) and a sexually confused pit bull terrier named Chico. Craig is being hunted by the desperately vengeful Deebo (Tom "Tiny" Lister Jr.), who has just broken out of prison. Elroy and Day-Day are drowning in tax debts and running from a jealous stalker / ex-girlfriend, D’wana (Tamala Jones).

But Craig’s quest to lead everybody out of all this personal trouble doesn’t amount to much. With the exception of some stray, very funny one-liners, Next Friday is a sprawling world of schmaltz – a virtual strip mall of comedy, covered in paste-up facades of sexual and racial stereotypes and boring toilet jokes. And for that reason, it doesn’t do much more than leave a viewer longing for the day to finally be over.

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