Friday after Next (2002)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Friday after Next</strong> (2002)

(On DVD, April 2016) By their third instalment, comedy series usually understand their chosen comic groove, and need to evolve in order to survive. Friday after Next shows both by reprising the stoner-buddy dynamics of the first two films, but transplanting the action again, this time to a strip mall and then the protagonists” apartment. Written, co-produced and starring Ice Cube, this third instalment isn’t all that different from the first two, but it does slip and stumble more often. Most noteworthy would be a homosexual assault sequence that feels out of place in the generally amiable Friday universe—fortunately, Terry Crews” career recovered from that misstep. (There’s also an abuse-toward-the-elderly gag that really doesn’t play well.) Otherwise, the film does set up a number of promising plot possibilities, but somehow fails to make the fullest use of it. From the thieving Claus to the denizen of the strip mall, to a third half-hearted love interest in as many movies, Friday after Next often seems to be going through the motions without focus or wit, occasionally recapturing the tone of the series but just as often losing it for no good reason. It’s a disappointment despite a decent number of laughs, and it may reflect what happens when a series becomes a bit more complacent than self-assured. It’s still not a bad film (if you’re watching the DVD set, don’t stop at the second disc), but it could have been more even without trying to be different. A fourth Friday film is shooting even as I write this review—let’s hope it’ll conclude the series on a more positive note.

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