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Next Friday (2000)

Given my understanding of linear time, Next Friday is the inevitable sequel to F. Gary Gray’s 1995 hit, Friday. Next Friday reintroduces Craig Jones (Ice Cube), this time in new and entertaining situations. After Deebo (Tommy “Tiny” Lister Jr.) is released from jail, Craig is made, by his father (John Witherspoon), to move to Rancho Cucamonga with his cousin, Day-Day (Mike Epps), and his uncle Elroy (Don “D.C.” Curry). Craig quickly realizes that his cousin and uncle are not in financial heaven like they claim, but rather they owe the government nearly four thousand dollars within twenty-four hours. With his family’s livelihood on the line, Craig steps up, yet again, and attempts to protect the people close to him. The means by which he chooses to help his family is both assanine and dangerous. Can he pull this off and save his family’s home, or will he and his family be forced to move back to the “ghetto?” 

Chris Tucker was, in every way, Ice Cube’s equal in Friday. Smokey was the perfect contrast to Craig, and they created a dynamic that helped lure in audiences and entertain them for an hour and a half. Due to some issues between Tucker and Ice Cube regarding money, Tucker does not return to the series for Next Friday. In Tucker’s absence, casting director Kimberly Hardin chose Mike Epps to fill that void. While Epps does a wonderful job of playing opposite Ice Cube, his ability to go over the top and create ridiculousness does not measure up to Tucker. He is much more down to earth in comparison to the absent Tucker, and rather than creating a balance of comedies like in the first film, they use similar forms of dry humor to entice and entertain audiences. The lack of diversity in their approach to comedy makes things feel a bit mundane. Epps is fun, and he does deliver comedy that audiences are able to appreciate, but it is certainly difficult to say that he lives up to the standards that Tucker set in place in Friday

Unlike the first installment of the Friday franchise, Next Friday has a definitive plot. It takes some time for Ice Cube, DJ Pooh and director Steve Carr to develop said plot. Audiences are under the impression that, like the first installment, Next Friday would possess little to no plot and would contain only a barrage of nonsensical material. Audiences become complacent with their assumption that the film would be mostly nonsensical, when suddenly Craig unveils the plot. The plot is fine and dandy, with the exception that the film barely touches on it. There is an “ah ha” moment when audiences realize exactly what the film is about, and then, just as quickly, they abandon said plot and move back toward the ideas of the first film. They use alcohol, drugs and vulgar humor to draw a particular set of viewers (and this is great and keeps with the tradition of the series), however, leading audiences to believe that there would be a specific plotline (and then completely abandoning it) is quite disappointing. Audiences expect a Friday film to be completely void of a definitive plot, so, creating false expectations is the wrong way to go. 

It is obvious that a sequel to such a simplistically funny film will not live up to the expectations that the first film set. Next Friday, with Steve Carr in the director’s chair, attempts to recreate a comedy that, in many ways, is a cultural influence. It is nearly impossible to live up to the hype of the first film, and, as expected, Next Friday falls short of expectations. On its own, it plays out well, but, with Friday (five years removed), somehow still fresh in the minds of viewers, Next Friday is, ultimately, a failed attempt at a sequel. It is full of fun, comedy and raunchy material, making it fun to some, but it is hard to repeat the past, and Carr goes down swinging. 



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