Next Friday (2000)

(On DVD, April 2016) The Friday series moves from the hood to the burbs in this bugger-budgeted follow-up, and the result may not necessarily be better overall, but it’s certainly funnier. Ice Cube stars as a young man who, following the events of the previous film, finds himself exiled to a cousin’s house for his own protection. Of course, mayhem both awaits and follows as Latino gangbangers live next door, and the first film’s antagonist is in hot pursuit. Slicker, slightly grander and more consistently funny than the first film, Next Friday may not have the hood/comedy juxtaposition effect running for it, but it’s a decent comedy in its own right. The laughs are there, the crazy characters abound, the rhythm is sustained (easily improving upon the first film’s laid-back approach to plotting) and the conclusion feels as if it gracefully ties up its plot threads. Mike Epps does well in a film that asks him to substitute for Chris Tucker, while Lisa Rodriguez does surprisingly well in a role that doesn’t require much more than being held in the centre of the male gaze so obvious to the film. Next Friday isn’t an overly ambitious film, and whatever social commentary value it has comes organically from Ice Cube’s perspective, but it’s a decent-enough film as a silly comedy and that’s all it needs to be.

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