The "hood," so often the setting for dramas about gang violence and racial intolerance, gets a winning comedic makeover in Friday, the surprise hit that launched the film career of comedian Chris Tucker. Tucker's manic torrent of dialogue works well alongside Ice Cube's put-upon exasperation, making for a memorable comic chemistry that carries the pair through a month's worth of shenanigans packed into a single wild day. Tucker may get the belly laughs, but Cube's straight man makes them possible, serving as the viewer's surrogate and a reluctant accomplice to Tucker's tactless trash talking. Cube deserves credit not only for his increasingly subtle acting, but also for a deft screenplay that zeroes in on the false machismo of its characters, while also revealing their underlying good humor. Cube doesn't deny that the threat of an imminent ass-kicking is the prime motivator in this environment, but he suggests that a lot of it is for show, and ultimately, these guys just want to have a good time. Centered around pot smoking, Friday has become a cult favorite among stoners, especially those who subscribe to Smokey's theory that the best way to spend an unprogrammed Friday is to light up a joint. After this confident debut, F. Gary Gray moved away from comedy, directing the crime thrillers Set It Off (1996) and The Negotiator (1998).
by Derek Armstrong review