The Friday series of films, beginning in 1995, has about zero visibility or recognition in Australia. This is because it falls into a specific niche market that does not seem to exist here: those with a taste and appreciation for Afro-American comedy.
Friday After Next is the third in the series, and it has the same qualities as its predecessors – laid-back humour and a beguiling charm. It's odd that these films don't work better in Australia, since they marry the vulgar, populist gags of the white American trash comedies with an everyday dagginess that has much in common with local productions like Crackerjack (2002) and Fat Pizza (2003).
Nothing much ever happens in the Friday films. Each film is about surviving a particular morning, day and night. There is always a fight, a party, some sex. Mainly, the characters just hang out.
Here, the only vague plot hooks are provided by the fact that it's Christmas, and that there's a neighbourhood thief masquerading as Santa Claus.
Craig (Ice Cube) and Day-Day (Mike Epps) get jobs as security guards in the middle of a courtyard of shops. This allows a mosaic of cultural types to parade by, and introduces the obligatory love-sex interest, Donna (K.D. Aubert).
On the freakier, kinkier side, there is a very tall and strong gay man, Damon (Terry Crews), just released from prison – cueing a string of outrageously homophobic jokes common to this genre.
Marcus Raboy, making his directorial debut, intermittently gives these knockabout proceedings a curious, '60s-style, Pink Panther touch. But the project belongs squarely to its narrator, co-star and scriptwriter, Ice Cube, who dictates the rhythm and mood of proceedings.
Although the Friday films are unlikely to ever win their rightful place in film history – which may have something to do with the fact that the only white characters are gross cops named Dix and Hole – they are a modest, funky treat for anyone who enjoys Afro-American movies from Car Wash (1976) to House Party (1990).
© Adrian Martin August 2003