Cousins Craig and Day-Day are back in the old neighborhood and ready for Christmas. Although they've left behind the security of living with their parents, at least they're on their own. The rundown apartment they now share is filled with all the accoutrements and spirit of the holiday season. It's a time for giving and joy--until Craig...
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Cousins Craig and Day-Day are back in the old neighborhood and ready for Christmas. Although they've left behind the security of living with their parents, at least they're on their own. The rundown apartment they now share is filled with all the accoutrements and spirit of the holiday season. It's a time for giving and joy--until Craig wakes up in the middle of the night and discovers a ghetto Santa Clause stealing their presents and anything else he can stuff into his bag--including the rent money they had hidden and stuffed into their stereo speakers. Faced with the harsh reality of having a Christmas without presents--as well as having to face the unwanted advances of their landlady's recently paroled son, if they can't pay the rent--Craig and Day are forced to score some quick cash. They go to the local strip mall where their fathers Mr. Jones and Uncle Elroy have opened Bros. Bar-B-Q restaurant and help land them jobs as unarmed security guards. While Craig handles the chaos of the Christmas Eve shopping crush, Day Day's renegade rent-a-cop tactics put the put the pair's jobs and lives in jeopardy. Nonetheless, in the process, Craig and Day-Day learn some comic lessons about the true meaning of the holiday season.
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Friday After Next is the third installment in Ice Cube's Friday film series, which focuses on South Central Los Angeles native Craig Jones and his various adventures that always seem to happen on Friday.
In the last Friday movie, the Jones family won the million-dollar lotto jackpot and left the 'hood for Beverly Hills. But the money has run out in Friday After Next and the clock ticks down once again on another Friday in the 'hood. Craig (Ice Cube) wakes up in the wee hours of Christmas Eve to find a scrawny Santa stealing the contents of his and his cousin Day-Day's (Mike Epps) apartment, including Christmas presents and the rent money. ''The ghetto,'' Craig commiserates, ''is the only place where you can get fried by Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.'' To avoid getting evicted--and possibly roughed up by the landlady's newly paroled son Damon (Terry Crews)--the two get jobs as security guards at a local strip mall where their uncle Elroy runs Bros. Bar-B-Q restaurant with the slogan, ''Tastes so good makes you wanna slap yo' mama.'' Day-Day's rent-a-cop antics eventually land the duo in some hot water, resulting in yet another action-packed Friday. Friday After Next has some great lines, but it's mediocre compared to its predecessors. Don't expect the staple marijuana humor here either; it has been replaced with raunchy R-rated dialogue instead.
The best thing about Friday After Next is the terrific character acting by the cast. Ice Cube's Craig is still the most reasonable Jones of the clan, and his character's levelheadedness strikes a nice balance between him and Epps' motor mouth character Day-Day. Epps made his first appearance as Day-Day in Next Friday after Chris Tucker, who starred as Craig's original sidekick Smokey in Friday, left. Together Epps and Ice Cube, who also collaborated together on All About the Benjamins, fit neatly like a sort of urban Laurel and Hardy. A hilarious new edition to Friday After Next is Katt Williams in the role of Money Mike, who runs the Pimp N' Ho's clothing store. Williams' diminutive size doesn't hamper the stand-up comedian-turned-actor's performance as he prances around the strip mall like he's a big man on campus. While the film has some new faces, it also has familiar ones, like the return of John Witherspoon in the role of Craig's father. This time around, Witherspoon has made his character Mr. Jones much more crass.
While all three installments of the Friday series were scripted and produced by Ice Cube, Friday After Next marks video director Marcus Raboy's feature film directorial debut. So while the films have some common thematic elements, such as having to come up with cash in 24 hours (usually followed by an ''or else'') or being terrorized by a neighborhood bully, they differ in look and style. Raboy's style here is similar to a music video; that is, fast paced bordering on frenetic. And while he achieves the campy '70 look he was aiming for, you may leave the theater thinking too much happened between Thursday and Saturday. Craig and Day-Day, for example, spend too much time chasing after the ghetto Santa or being chased by hooligans and not enough smoking weed. Ice Cube and Epps have such a great rapport on screen that it would have been nice to see them sit back and exchange witty dialogue. Their was also too much focus on the older cast members, including Witherspoon and Don ''DC'' Curry, who spend the entire film being repulsively raunchy--which is disturbing in a hearing-your-parents-talk-about-sex kind of way.
Friday After Next is clearly not the funniest of the Friday movies, but fans of the series will probably still enjoy catching up with Craig and Day-Day. This, however, is what happens when you dissect a classic like Friday to see what makes it work; it can never quite be repeated.
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