Rated R - Running Time: 1:33 - Released 1/12/00

One would be hard pressed to find a more inconsequential film than Steve Carr's Next Friday, a sequel to the slightly-more-important 1995 film Friday, which featured rapper Ice Cube and comic Chris Tucker sitting on the porch in South Central L.A., smoking weed and watching the day go by. While that film gave us a humorous look at life in the 'hood, we are treated now to a more action-oriented story based in the suburbs. Both films were written by Cube and D.J. Pooh; this is, however, the freshman effort of director Carr.

As in Friday, Cube's role is mainly that of straight-man, but this time Tucker's wasted Smokey is replaced by Mike Epps's frenetic homeboy Day-Day. Cube's character, Craig, goes to visit his cousin, who left South Central for this posh neighborhood when his dad (Don "D.C." Curry) hit the lotto and won a million dollars. While there, Craig and Day-Day get in trouble with Day-Day's pregnant girlfriend (Tamala Jones), his pimplike boss (Clifton Powell), and his drug-selling Latino neighbors (Jacob Vargas, Lobo Sebastian, and Rolando Molina). At the film's end, Day-Day asks Craig, "when can I come visit you and [mess] up your neighborhood?" Craig replies, "You can't."

This film, while genuinely funny on a few occasions, has the mentality of a Cheech and Chong movie. Most of the humor derives from overblown ethnic stereotypes, drug abuse, and sexism. While Epps is running frantically from the diminutive-but-furious Jones, Cube is making flirtatious advances at the next-door bad-boys' sister (Lisa Rodríguez). Or maybe that should be spelled "seeester." Half-baked subplots involve Craig's newly rich uncle and his busty sexpot girlfriend (Kim Whitley) getting kinky with whips and chains, and his dog-catcher dad (John Witherspoon) speeding down the highway with two criminal escapees hiding in the back of his truck (Tiny Lister and Sticky Fingaz), and a bad case of diarrhea. Not to mention the spliff-smoking party the guys share with Day-Day's co-worker (Justin Pierce), using a vacuum cleaner to suck up the telltale smoke. Smart stuff, eh?

Virtually nothing memorable happens in Next Friday, but it will afford its market (mainly black teens) a mindless romp through homeboy comedy, a rap soundtrack, and a break from the doldrums of early-year film releases. ***½

Copyright 2000 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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