"It ain't ya booty, it's ya beauty."
I'm a white guy, a very white guy; I'm the epitome of white. When I try to use hip words like fly, fresh, flavor, word, dope, or def, I just come across as a really stupid white guy, much like Eminem. Though I've casually known a few black people in my days, I can't say I've really ever had a close black friend. I've never had the opportunity to learn of their culture first-hand. Living in Cincinnati, well, if you watch the news you know…
Over time, I've never seen a "black film." Movies like Jungle Fever, All About the Benjamins, Malcolm X, New Jack City, or Boyz N the Hood have never been my flavor. I guess I always figured that this little white boy wouldn't truly appreciate a film from that genre, I'm not part of that culture, so most of it would fly over my head; I just wouldn't get it. That was my exact thought when Friday After Next appeared in my mailbox. How the devil was this slice of white bread supposed to watch and review this movie? I'm so outside the box, I'm practically lost. Besides, this is the third film in the franchise, so that's going to make my viewing experience all the more difficult.
Imagine my utter surprise when I watched this movie, laughed, and found the thing so good, I wanted to go slap my momma…I mean go out and rent the other two films. Though worried I wouldn't "get it," Ice Cube and D.J. Pooh wrote a movie that easily transcends any inferred color lines so that even this cracker did "get it."
It's all good.
Facts of the Case
I'm not a rent-a-cop. I'm Top Flight Security, Craig.
T'was the early Friday morning before Christmas and all through the hood, not a creature was stirring except the project Santa Claus trying to rip off Craig (Ice Cube, Boyz N The Hood, All About the Benjamins, Barbershop) and his cousin Day-Day (Mike Epps, Bait, How High). Wakened by the odd sounds in his apartment at three in the morning, Craig finds himself face to face with a thief dressed in a ratty old Santa suit, eating a big ass ham sandwich, robbing his place. A fight ensues between the two, all the while Day-Day sleeps blissfully unaware of the mayhem in the other room. Santa overpowers Craig and makes off with their CD collection, all the presents, and the stereo speaker that hid the rent money.
Of course, the rent is due today and Ms. Pearly (Bebe Drake, House Party, Boomerang) is tired of those two boys putting off the payment. She's on them and she wants her money today and doesn't care if they were jacked during the night. Craig, the more rational of the two, can't convince Pearly to give them some more time; Day-Day, the more impulsive of the two, can't help but mouth off to Pearly, only making her angrier. Unfortunately for the cousins, Pearly's boy Damon has just been released from prison after a nice twelve-year stay. If she doesn't get her rent today, somebody's gonna get their salad tossed tonight!
As Craig and Day-Day live in the projects, officers Alvin Hole and Brian Dix finally show up about six hours later and are less than responsive to the boys' pleas. Making matters worse, the boys happen to enjoy smoking a little weed and the cops find their marijuana plant in the apartment. Luckily, the cops decided only to "confiscate" the plant and not arrest them. While Craig wonders how they are going to get rent money, Day-Day ponders how they are going to be able to have their Christmas Eve party tonight when their place is trashed.
Fortunately, the boys are starting work today as security officers at a strip mall. In that mall, the boys' fathers run a little restaurant called Bros. Bar-B-Que. Mr. Jones and Uncle Elroy were able to get their boys hired after the last two guards…decided not to return. Although it's just his first day, Craig hopes to ask their boss, Mr. Moly, for a week's advance on their pay so they can get Pearly off their back. The strip mall is in the hood, so it's not going to be easy, especially since Moly won't give them anything more than a whistle, of which Officers A. Hole and B. Dix ignore as they chow on some of the donuts from the fly-infested "Holy Moly's Donuts." Craig knows his limitations and just wants to relax and make it home for Christmas in one piece, but that's not close to Day-Day's plan. Given a sliver of authority, Day-Day gets power happy and begins to harass and harangue anyone that seems even slightly out of line. Now, Craig not only has to survive the day, but he has to put up with and try to control his cousin. Along the way, Craig is able to find a few moments of solace when he talks with the fine Donna, the girlfriend of Money Mike, the owner of the new clothing store "Pimps 'n 'Hos."
Will Craig and Day-Day survive another Friday? Will they be any good at their jobs? Can they get an advance on their pay and turn in the rent money? Is there going to be a party tonight? Why is Donna with Money Mike? Is someone's salad gonna get tossed?
I can't attest to the entirety of the Friday franchise, but if this third movie is any indicator of its predecessors, this series could easily rival the biggest comedies out there. In all honesty, I can't recall the last time I saw a film that was so consistently funny, so filled with great and memorable characters, and was so fresh and original. Friday After Next is a film that has been overlooked, no doubt for reasons that were similar to mine. But once again the old adage is proven: don't judge a book by its cover. If not for this screener, I would have never watched this film and would have missed a great movie. I'm very confident that this film could have been a hundred million dollar franchise if only it weren't an urban film. Then again, if it weren't, it'd probably be as dull and recycled as the rest of the mainstream comedies out there. Perhaps you think I'm just a little high right now? A little juiced by stumbling across a new film? There's always that slight possibility, yet I know it's more than that. As this title is an Infinifilm release, I needed to watch it four times to review all the bonus materials. At the end of the fourth viewing in as many days, I was still laughing and enjoying the experience. How many films can survive that rigorous of a test?
My biggest fear had been that I wouldn't be able to relate to the film, that "black humor" would be too different from "white humor" and I'd be lost and bored silly—please pardon my naïveté, and general ignorance. And then I watched it, laughed, and had a great time, but then my brain began to wonder if this was truly a black film or if it had diluted itself into the mainstream. There is a second commentary track with four of the actors from the film. As I listened to it, it became quite obvious that this film was still "black" and very funny to them as well as me. It hadn't gone mainstream; it was a film that was still true to its roots yet totally appealing to a wider audience than it was probably intended—the sign of excellent filmmaking.
There are a many facets that come together well to make this movie work. Everything from the direction, to the actors, to the characters, to the script, to the spot on music wonderfully combines to entertain the audience. Marcus Raboy, first-time director (as are all the directors in the series), had worked with Cube (not only a rapper and an actor, but also a writer and producer as well) on many music videos. Their comfort level allowed Raboy to pace the film successfully with a pleasant direction, which is nothing spectacular yet still gives the film a solid, polished feel. The actors, many of whom are franchise regulars in addition to being stand-up comedians, are fantastic and absolutely nail their characters—no matter how outlandish they may be. And that's a key to the success of the film. Each character is developed and immediately likable, regardless if he's a little pimp, a beefed up thug, or an overzealous remedial. If the characters weren't as energetic and over-the-top, then you wouldn't find yourself absorbed by their hijinks.
Something else that's unexpectedly funny about all this is the fact that the movie was given the Infinifilm treatment. Why? How did a film that pulled in about $33 million in domestic receipts get tapped for this super-loaded release? I'm not going to quibble too much, but it is something of an enigma.
With an Infinifilm, I'm expecting top of the line video and audio transfers; perhaps even reference quality. Sadly, that is not the case with the video here. The anamorphic widescreen is surprisingly bad for such a new release on this label. On top of an overall soft and grainy print, there's some artifacting, moiré shimmering, and haloing. It's very disappointing and unacceptable. The colors, though, are richly represented with a vibrant palette. Happily, the audio choices are more akin to what one would expect. You can choose from a 6.0 DTS track or a 5.1 Dolby Digital track, and either of them will give you a thumpin' experience. Dialogue is very clear from the centers, surrounds are used effectively, and the bass really kicks—especially during the great musical cues by John Murphy.
Of course, we all know the Infinifilm pours on the extras in huge quantities, and it's no exception here. Here's a brief rundown on what you'll find on this loaded disc:
• Audio Commentary with Director Marcus Raboy, Producer Mark
Alvarez, and Ice Cube: While Raboy and Alvarez were recorded together, separate
comments by Cube are spliced in. As it progresses, the commentary ends up being
dominated by Cube, which is fine as he imparts a great deal of fun information
about his movie.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Put down the b-b-b-b-bar-b-que.
My only minor quibble, and I do mean this is a very minor nitpick, concerns the acceptance of smoking pot. I've heard that the other Fridays have a far stronger focus on weed, so I'm happy to see that it has been toned down greatly here. Yes, it's my prudish opinion that this sort of behavior should never be glamorized. However, by my reckoning, the few scenes where it's shown are presented in such a way that the focus is more on the people and not on the drugs, and it's done so in a very funny way.
Man down. Pimp in distress!
A wonderfully fresh experience, viewing Friday After Next was immensely enjoyable: the characters are great, their circumstances are hilarious, and the various interactions are witty. I truly am glad to have been given this film, and I am going to seek out the first two. Hopefully I'll become a fan of the entire series, for at this time, I'd be happy to see a fourth film come out with these great characters. Therefore, I vigorously recommend at least a rental of the disc. A funny story loaded with tons of bonus materials, the DVD will give you hours of enjoyment. Though marred by a video transfer that is bordering on unacceptable, I'll still further recommend adding Friday After Next to your collection. If comedy is your thing, then look no further.
You can lead a 'ho to water, but you can't make her think.
New Line is found guilty for releasing this film with a video so bad, make you wanna slap their momma. They are hereby sentenced to one week's work as Top Flight Security guards at Moly's Plaza.
All other parties are acquitted of any charges for their work in this fly comedy.
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• Audio Commentary with Director Marcus Raboy, Producer Mark Alvarez, and Ice Cube
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