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With: Ice Cube, Chris Tucker, Nia Long, Tommy 'Tiny' Lister, John Witherspoon, Anna Maria Horsford, Regina King, Paula Jai Parker, Faizon Love, DJ Pooh, Angela Means, Vickilyn Reynolds, Ronn Riser, Kathleen Bradley, Tony Cox, Anthony Johnson, Demetrius Navarro, Jason Bose Smith, Bernie Mac, Justin Revoner, Meagan Good
Written by: Ice Cube, DJ Pooh
Directed by: F. Gary Gray
MPAA Rating: R for pervasive strong language and drug use, and for a brutal fight
Running Time: 91
Date: 04/26/1995

Friday (1995)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

No Job, Nothing to Do

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

It's Friday in the 'hood. Craig (Ice Cube) has just lost his job (on his day off) and now has nothing to do but hang out with his friend, a comical drug dealer named "Smokey" (Chris Tucker). As the day passes, they gossip about the kooky neighbors, avoid the block bully Deebo ("Tiny" Lister), and smoke a little pot. Eventually, they must come up with $200 to pay back Smokey's boss, or else face his retribution. Meanwhile, Craig has developed a little crush on Debbie (Nia Long) and finds he must stand up to Deebo to protect her honor. Can Craig learn how to be a "man" without resorting to using the gun he has hidden in his room?

Directed by F. Gary Gray (The Italian Job), Friday is fairly unique in the history of African-American cinema. Though it depends partly on the usual toilet humor, it does not have the same hyped-up, eager-to-please vibe of most other comedies. It's uncharacteristically laid-back with a refreshing lack of plot mechanics. This, plus the one-day, one-neighborhood setting, allows the characters to flourish in a more organic way. In this, it's almost on a level with such classics as Charles Burnett's Killer of Sheep (1977) and Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing (1989).

That said, the movie also comes with a troublesome air of misogyny; most of the women characters are seen either as sexual objects, or objects of scornful humor. It's also not particularly laugh-out-loud funny, as most of the humor is at the expense of other characters. There are glimpses of goodness, but in general, the overall behavior of the people in this neighborhood is not so great. However, the historical importance of the film, plus its genuine cult status, tend to make up for these disappointing shortcomings.

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