A scene from 'Friday After Next'
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** stars
85 minutes | Rated: R
Opened: Friday, November 22, 2002
Directed by Marcus Raboy

Starring Ice Cube, Mike Epps, John Witherspoon, Don "D.C." Curry, Anna Maria Horsford, Bebe Drake, Sommore, K.D. Aubert, Clifton Powell, Maz Jobrani, Joel McKinnon Miller, Katt Williams, Terry Crews, Lou Myers

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Anything fun or funny here will be greatly diminished without an audience to sustain the laughter. A rental at best.

   VIDEO RELEASE: 03.25.2003


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Third installment of Ice Cube's ghetto-stoner comedy series comes up short on laughs, plot

By Rob Blackwelder

After writing and starring in the funny homeboys-and-hemp comedies "Friday" and "Next Friday," rapper-actor Ice Cube isn't quite out of ripe screwball ideas, but "Friday After Next" spreads them pretty thin. In fact, the "Pink Panther"-styled cartoon opening credits are the biggest laugh in the movie.

Story proper begins with slapstick cousins Craig (Cube) and Day-Day (Mike Epps) back in Compton after spending the last film in the suburbs. Desperate for rent money after a "ghetto Santa" breaks into their apartment at Christmas time, swiping presents and cash, the guys take seasonal security jobs at a dilapidated strip mall where their grumpy, squabbling dads (John Witherspoon and Don "D.C." Curry) have a barbecue joint.

Armed with nothing but a second-hand uniform and a whistle, thickwit Day-Day thinks he's suddenly a supercop, rousting church-lady carolers for loitering, but running away from gangbangers when he rubs them the wrong way. Meanwhile Craig has his eye on a drop-dead gorgeous salesgirl (K.D. Aubert) at the strip's new clothing outlet, Pimps & Hos. (Other stores include Holy Moly Donuts, check cashing, liquor and 94-cent stores, and Toyz in the Hood.)

But that's about the extent of the plot and there's no story arch to speak of in this flick. Cube, Epps and director Marcus Raboy (who has worked with Cube on several music videos) do little more than set up punchlines and knock them down, until the boys still come up short on rent in the last act and decide to charge admission to their Christmas party to make up the difference.

"Friday After Next" has its moments of hilarity, many of them in passing, as when the camera crosses Craig and Day-Day's apartment to reveal a cannabis plant decorated like a Christmas tree. But some moments become whole scenes of great comedic timing, as when the cops take the guys' robbery report and "confiscate" their ganja, but make it up to them with a surprising offer: "When we catch St. Nick, what do you want us to do? Cracked skull? Eye gouge?"

"Them cops is cool!" Day-Day observes in semi-stoned excitement.

But except for Cube, who like Bruce Willis makes an even better everyman than he does an action star, the cast of characters are nothing but embarrassingly low-brow, one-note clichés. Besides Day-Day, who is an insufferably whiney dolt with a pot-fried brain, and Donna, the ring-a-ding-ding hottie who gets a hair-tossing slow-mo intro, there's the sissy ghetto-dandy owner of Pimps & Hos (Katt Williams); the grumpy, gassy old dads; a few horny, ghetto-loud, big-haired, middle-aged women (Bebe Drake, Sommore, Anna Marie Horsford); a greasy Israeli immigrant shop owner (Maz Jobrani); and a muscle-bound parolee (Terry Crews) who has an eye for the sissy.

Although the movie does garner street authenticity by filming on locations that are unmistakably in a run-down section of South Central Los Angeles, "Friday After Next" doesn't pretend to be anything more than a source of cheap laughs -- which would be fine if the laughs didn't require most of the actors to jettison their dignity (see character descriptions above). The movie aims low and fires indiscriminately, but only occasionally manages to hit is broad, often tasteless target.


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