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Movie Reviews: Laughter rolls ‘Next Friday’

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by Michael Anklin
Editorial Director

Thank God it is Friday. Again. “Next Friday,” that is. Rap star/actor Ice Cube stars as Craig in the sequel to the 1995 hit comedy “Friday,” and again a lot is about to go down between Thursday night and Saturday morning.

In 1995, Craig confronted the neighborhood bully Deebo (Tommy “Tiny” Lister, Jr., “I Got the Hook Up”) and defeated him in a fist fight. After several years in prison, Deebo has now escaped and is seeking revenge.

Craig’s father, the always hilarious John Witherspoon (television’s “Wayans Brothers”), is concerned about his son’s safety and sends Craig from Los Angeles to stay with his Uncle Elroy (Don “D.C.” Curry) in Rancho Cucamonga. Craig’s relatives had bought their house in the suburbs with money they won in the lottery.

With help from his cousin, Day-Day (Mike Epps), Craig has to get used to life in the suburbs. And there is a lot to get used to.

Day-Day’s parents like to smoke marijuana and engage in S&M sex practices. If that was not bad enough, Craig’s voluptuous step aunt seems to have a thing for him.

Craig cannot exactly lean on Day-Day’s shoulders for support either. His cousin likes to play it safe and not get involved in anything risky. However, he also likes to smoke out with his Caucasian co-worker, Roach (Justin Pierce, “Kids”), a hopeless would-be skateboarder. Their boss, Stanley (Clifton Powell, “Rush Hour”), is a wannabe pimp with a very short temper.

Epps replaces Chris Tucker from the first “Friday” movie as Cube’s comic sidekick. While Epps is funny at times, Tucker’s outrageousness is dearly missed. Nevertheless, there is plenty of outrageous fun provided by Day-Day’s Hispanic neighbors. As a matter of fact, they steal the show from Epps and Cube.

The lovely Latina next door, Karla (Lisa Rodriguez), serves as Craig’s love interest in “Next Friday,” but things are not that easy, of course. The girl’s brothers just happened to be fresh out of jail, and are lead by Joker (Jacob Vargas, “Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion”), the smallest and most hilariously obnoxious of the three. Joker and his brothers have a rather big problem with Craig dating their sister. A dog named Chico is their initial weapon of choice to scare off the newcomer.

Chico, who develops his own issues after his first encounter with Craig, is just one of the obstacles the two cousins and their friend have to overcome. They then try to steal money from their aggressive neighbors to save Day-Day’s suburban home, which is about to be evicted because his freaky parents have already spent most of the money they won.

While Craig and his friends are headed for a showdown with their neighbors, Deebo is on his way to Rancho Cucamonga to remind Craig of last Friday. And you can bet he does not just want to say hello.

Just like “Friday,” “Next Friday,” is a hilarious and outrageous must-see comedy for anyone who likes humor on the outrageous and sometimes nasty side. Tucker’s fans will miss him, but the crazy neighbors make up for the gap he left. One way or another, thank God it is Friday.

“Next Friday” was written and produced by Ice Cube. Acclaimed hip hop video producer Steve Carr directed the movie. Naturally, the film is accompanied by a rap/R&B soundtrack featuring new songs by Ice Cube, Wyclef Jean, Aaliyah, Wu-Tang Clan and a new N.W.A. song featuring Snoop Dogg.

The movie is scheduled for release on Jan. 12, 2000.

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