It’s Friday and Craig Jones (Ice Cube) has just gotten fired for stealing cardboard boxes. To make matters worse, rent is due, he hates his overbearing girlfriend, Joi (Paula Jai Parker), and his best friend, Smokey (Chris Tucker), owes the local drug dealer money — and that’s all before lunch. As the hours drag on, Jones and Smokey experience the gamut of urban life, complete with crackheads, shoot-outs, and overly sexual pastors, concentrated into one single, unbelievable Friday.
In my recently published review of Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, I said that I am not a fan at all of the stoner comedy, and for the most part, that’s true. Sure, sometimes they manage to make me crack a smile but they’re often so wildly unfunny and boring to my own taste. Don’t get me wrong, I can totally see why so many people love them. If you are just wanting to watch a movie that’ll make you feel good and put you in the mood, they’re a great option. I know that a lot of people actually get stoned with their buddies while watching a stoner comedy, which is probably the best option because then you can almost join in with the craziness that the characters are experiencing.
Even though I am not necessarily a fan of this style of comedy, I am open to watching ones I haven’t seen before in case I find myself genuinely enjoying one. So, while scrolling through Netflix today I saw the thumbnail for Friday, a movie that I’ve heard a ton of good things about ever since I was thirteen years old.
How did I know about this more mature comedy at such a young age? Well, long story short, I had the social media app Vine. And on Vine, it seemed like everybody would use that clip from Friday, where Craig and Smokey say “Daaaaamn!”, and I can totally see why. It’s a quick moment from the film that manages to make people laugh all these years later. There is just something about the way Ice Cube and Chris Tucker deliver the line that makes it stand out so significantly. They say it with such passion and power that it’s almost impossible not to laugh when they say it in unison.
So because I’ve seen that hilarious clip time and time again, I figured I’d finally give the film as a whole a try because it looked like something I would actually enjoy, and, what do you know? I actually dug this one quite a lot. From the moment Friday begins all the way to its surprisingly intense and dark final minutes, this is one joyride of a comedy that I will not forget anytime soon.
The script by Ice Cube and DJ Pooh is so smooth flowing and hard-hitting that it’s crazy how this movie isn’t an absolute staple in the comedy genre. As soon as the movie began, I already found myself laughing extremely hard at the antics that Ice Cube’s character was getting up to. It’s established incredibly early on that his character Craig is best friends with this guy named Smokey. They practically do everything together. If Craig is doing something, then surely Smokey is not too far either.
Whether it’s them going out for walks or eating or just sitting on their porch and telling each other crazy stories that are happening in their lives, Craig and Smokey are inseparable and they are two of the funniest friends in a film I’ve seen in years. The chemistry that actors Ice Cube and Chris Tucker share together here is absolutely electric. It genuinely never once feels like acting. These two speak all of their lines and act beside one another like it’s a piece of cake. They sell every single scene with ease and an amazing sense of humor.
Plus it would be a sin to not mention just how wonderful the soundtrack to the film is. “Keep Their Heads Ringin'”, “Mary Jane”, and “I Wanna Get Next To You” are just three incredible songs on this phenomenal fifteen-song soundtrack that feels tailor-made for this movie. As each track flows into the next, it is an absolute delight to experience.
There are some instances, however, in which Friday can feel a little bit too simplistic. Don’t get me wrong – part of the beauty and part of what makes Friday work is just how simplistic and laid-back it is. When you really boil it down, this is a movie in which two best friends just get up to crazy and hilarious antics in their neighborhood after smoking marijuana. It’s a simple concept for sure, but what makes it stand out so much is the chemistry between Ice Cube and Chris Tucker, the soundtrack, and the writing.
But while the writing is strong and the execution of the concept is good, there were some moments where I couldn’t help but wish there was a bigger conflict in this movie. Really, there isn’t a conflict in the movie until the final few minutes which was quite surprising even if it only lasted for a brief few moments.
Even still though, Friday is undeniably hilarious and it’s no wonder why after all these years, audiences still get a kick out of it and watch it with their friends. It’s an authentic, hilarious, and shockingly wholesome movie that is sure to put a smile on your face and make you forget about all of life’s worries, even if only for ninety-one minutes. That may sound short, but trust me – it’s ninety-one minutes of pure joy.
Overall Grade: A-
MPAA Rating: R for pervasive strong language and drug use, and for a brutal fight
Directed by: F. Gary Gray
Distributed by: New Line Cinema
Release Date: April 26, 1995
Running Time: 91 minutes