I was spoiled last weekend when I got to see two of the best pictures of 1999--P.T. Anderson's "Magnolia" and Scott Hicks' "Snow Falling on Cedars." But, you know, it's the first month of the new year, and as any "in-the-know" person should realize, the quality of films significantly drop with each year crossover. 2000 is a new millennium, to some a chance to start anew, whether it be concerning something minor, or even the full direction of their life. Could movie releases also possibly start fresh this January? Well, the rest of this month's upcoming films have yet to be seen by me, but 2000 has begun with Steve Carr's "Next Friday," the sequel to the despicably low-rent 1995 comedy hit, "Friday." To put it in as gentle of a manner as humanly possible, "Next Friday" is an instant front-runner for the absolute worst motion picture to be unleashed upon movie screens in 2000.
If anyone should have the blame put on them, it should be Ice Cube himself, since it was he and some writing genius by the sophisticated name of D.J. Pooh, who penned the maddeningly stupid, dull, and completely unfunny screenplay. The fact that there are a string of great films each year that never get their rightful recognition because they fail to be awarded a strong theatrical release, and yet "products" by the name of "Next Friday" instantly come out on thousands of screens across the country, is not only a sad statement about the moviemaking business, but also one concerning the validity of audiences who will actually throw down the cash to see something as brain-numbingly inept as this. Granted, I went to see it opening night (with a theater fairly packed for a Wednesday evening), but at least I have two excuses: (1) It's sort of my duty to wade through such trash to get to the film gems, so I can ward readers away from the former category, and (2) I got in with my Hoyts 2000 Season Pass, and didn't have to pay one cent. What I lost, however, are 93 minutes of my precious life that I could have been putting to better use--you know, by getting my head smashed in with a large, metal hammer, or receiving refreshing root canal surgery.
Now this is only a guess, so don't hold it against me if I get it wrong, but I think the premise of "Next Friday" goes something like this: Craig Jones (Ice Cube), the pot-smoking "hero" of the film's predecessor, is still living at home with his father, Mr. Jones (John Witherspoon), showing no signs of attempting to partake in responsibility for his fully adult self, or even getting a job. Believing that what Craig needs is a change of atmosphere, Mr. Jones takes him to stay with his Uncle Elroy (Don Curry), who has recently won the lottery and moved to the suburbs with a much younger wife by the name of Suga (Kym E. Whitley).
The rest of the movie, all of which is set on a Friday, of course, consists of nothing more than one occurrence happening after the next, none, or rarely any, of which are connected to anything else in the so-called story. There are two crooks from the original who have escaped from prison and have set out to seek revenge on Craig. Then there is a crazy pregnant woman (Tamala Jones) and her chubby sidekick (Robin Allen) who are out to destroy the belongings of Craig's cousin (Mike Epps) until he takes responsibility for his unborn child. Nothing comes of this subplot, by the way, and like every other character in the film, it is played for gratuitous laughs and no attempts is ever made to develop anyone beyond a broad caricature. In fact, 'caricature' may be too kind a word to describe the zero-dimensional characters, all of which are so inanely vacuous that I often felt as if I was watching a blank, white wall that kept cussing at me, with an occasional gust of marijuana smoke blowing in front of my view.
I've got one question for the entire cast, crew, and studio, New Line Cinemas, and then I'm just leaving this movie alone forever. It's something I ask many films of this low, low caliber, because I am always left wondering it. I never get an answer, but if anyone who was involved in "Next Friday" happens to read this, could you please e-mail email@example.com
and offer up an insightful answer? Here goes: Was there ever a minutiae of a second, either during preproduction, filming, or post-production, where you actually warped your mind into thinking that you were making a motion picture worth any sort of value whatsoever?
Okay, I'm through. May I never have to think about this heaping piece of rancid garbage for the remainder of my life--well, okay, at least until I write my Worst of 2000 essay next January.
©2000 by Dustin Putman