Whatever merits the mysteriously popular "Friday" series might hold is utterly lost upon me. 1995's "Friday" was nothing more than two characters sitting around for 90 minutes smoking weed, and 2000's "Next Friday
" was the worst film of that respective year, a comedy that somehow managed to not hold a single even mildly funny or witty moment from beginning to end. "Friday After Next" (what's next? "The Last Friday of the Month?") holds the distinction of not being quite as bad as the insufferable "Next Friday
," but it is still a cinematic atrocity for which the term, "lowest-common-denominator," was invented for.
As with the previous outings, Ice Cube (2002's much smarter, much funnier "Barbershop
") stars in and has written the screenplay of this latest outing, with first-time director Marcus Raboy taking over the directorial reigns. There is no plot to speak of, only the slightest hint of a narrative to push the characters forward. Set completely on Christmas Eve in South Central, L.A., Craig Jones (Ice Cube) and Day-Day (Mike Epps) are feuding, yet tight-knit brothers who are now working as security guards at a trashy strip mall with such stores as "Pimps and Ho's Fashions" and "Toys N the Hood." When they are the latest victims of a string of burglaries being committed in the area by a black man dressed in a Santa Claus suit, they make it their goal to catch him before the day is out.
Aside from every character being presented as a shallow player or whore, perhaps the most irritating thing about "Friday After Next," and the "Friday" series in general, is its complete laziness on the writing level. There is nothing sharp, nothing smart, nothing observant, and certainly nothing funny about the jokes on display. Ice Cube can be a fine actor, and he has been in many respectable films, but somehow his brain goes on autopilot every time he pens a "Friday" screenplay. The jokes are all too obvious and slack and what passes for character development is almost insulting in its stereotypical mindset.
Because of the money they continue to make, there must be an audience that enjoys the "Friday" series, but I wouldn't be interested in knowing any of them personally. The makers wrongfully portray the African-American community to be nothing more than immature dimwits whose only interests are in getting high and getting laid, and in the case of "Friday After Next," set back the advancements of the homosexual population by at least fifty years. It may be all in good fun, but no fun comes out of it.
At 85 minutes, "Friday After Next" is short but not sweet, and there is but one strong laugh to be found (involving an "Extra Medium" tag the Santa thief finds on a shirt he plans to steal). Mostly, though, the film is a lugubrious, patience-testing slog through vacuous material and without even a semblance of creative inspiration. The whole enterprise would easily warrant questioning involving what the point of its existence is, but the unlucky viewers sulking their way out of the theater afterwards likely won't be able to muster up enough energy to even do that.
©2002 by Dustin Putman