Friday

Reviewed by Van T. Tran

Platinum Edition DVD

New Line, widescreen 1.85:1/16x9, languages: English Dolby Surround, subtitles: English, Spanish, French, single side-single layer, 27 chapters, rated R, 91 min., $24.98, street date 3/2/99.

Supplements:

  • Seven Deleted Scenes
  • Q & A interviews With Director F. Gary Gary And Producer Pat Charbonnet
  • Dr. Dre "Keep Their Heads Ringin" & Ice Cube "Friday" Music Videos
  • Two Theatrical Trailers
  • Cast And Crew Biographies & Filmographies

Studio Line

Directed by F. Gary Gray. Starring Ice Cube, Chris Tucker, Nia Long, Tiny "Zeus" Lister Jr., John Witherspoon, Anna Maria Horsford.

Multi-platinum recording artist, producer, director, and actor Ice Cube and box office superstar Chris Tucker lead this hilarious comedy about a day in the 'hood. Craig and Smokey were chillin' on the front porch one Friday. Trouble is, they run into Big Worm, who gives them until the end of the day to pay back his money. They've got to dodge Deebo, south Central's meanest thug, and get the cash any way they can! As time ticks away, the chance this pair will ever see Saturday is fading fastů

Picture/Sound/Extras (B/C+/B-)

Piggybacking on the ride with the home release of Chris Tucker's box office smash Rush Hour, New Line corresponds with a special edition of Friday, which provides an early brilliant showcase of Tucker's comedic talent. Tucker revved an even bigger motor mouth in this 1995 urban comedy film that spoofs a hilarious side of hanging out in the 'hood. As the title suggests, the movie takes place entirely on a Friday. Coming off from an Oscar nominated film in John Singleton's The Boyz N the Hood, rapper Ice Cube plays the main character, Craig, a laid back twentysomething who we learn somehow manages to get fired on his day off. Having nothing better to do than to chill out on the front porch with his weed smoking homeboy, Smokey (Chris Tucker), whose mission for the day was to convince Craig to take advantage of weed; "Weed is from the earth," Smokey says enticingly to Craig, "God put this here for me and you. Take advantage man, take advantage." Not before long, Big Worm, the dope supplier, shows up and demands his money. Except that Smokey and Craig have smoked a good portion of the supply and must come up with $200 dollars by the evening or they might not make it to Saturday.

As the day progresses, a hilarious and colorful cast of characters from the neighborhood drops by. There is Deebo (Tiny "Zeus" Lister Jr.), a bully who strolls the neighborhood on a small size bike and demands money and jewelry from those unfortunate enough to cross path with him. Across from the porch is the sexy Mrs. Parker (Kathleen Bradley), who like to water the lawn wearing short short and is married to a midget. She just doesn't know what the boys would like to do with her. But Pastor Clever (Bernie Mac) sure knows how, who preaches more than just religion. Scavenging the neighborhood is Ezal (Anthony Johnson), a transient who would do anything for $2 bucks. Coming home from work after bitten by a dog is Craig's fingers licking father, plays hysterically by John Witherspoon, who manages to stop munching long enough to dish out some sound advices to his son. Then there's the beautiful Nia Long, who is enough of a reason for Craig to find the courage and stand up to be a man. And this is only an abbreviated list of characters that paraded through the front porch!

Friday is uproariously funny with silly slapsticks and juvenile gags, but the movie also has a big heart in bringing the community together and shows that humor still exists amidst the struggle in the 'hood.

As a Platinum Edition, the DVD isn't jam packed with supplemental materials that we've come to expect from the series, but what it does contain serve as a nice complement to the film. The most interesting part is the 22-minute Q&A interview with director F. Gary Gray (Set It Off, The Negotiator). Friday marks his first feature debut, prior to that he was an accomplished music video director for Ice Cube and other rappers. I couldn't help but thinking how much Gray strikes a close resemblance to Carlton Banks (Alfonso Ribeiro) in Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Instead of showing a continuous length, the interview is broken up to 8 chapters, so have your remote control handy to advance after each question. The interview centers on how he came upon the project and what it was like to work with Ice Cube, Chris Tucker, John Witherspoon, and other cast. It's rather entertaining and insightful, such as Tucker was originally not the first choice to play Smokey after his nervous audition. But Gray saw something in the audition that compelled him to encourage the studio to give Tucker a second audition. Well, needless to say, the rest is history. The second is a 14-minute Q&A with producer Patricia Charbonnet, who came across as a very willful and independence woman. She explains the motivation behind the project and the challenges in the production and finance. The studio provided a budget of under $3 million and demanded the shooting to be finished in 20 days, or there will be no movie. She also discusses the universal appeal and what the movie has meant for her over the years.

Next are the 7 seven deleted scenes, which are low-quality and consist of alternate takes that extend the scenes longer and a preachy alternate ending. There are also two music videos by Dr. Dre and Ice Cube and two hilariously energetic trailers. Rounding up the supplement is a thorough biography and filmography on the cast and crew. What sorely missing is a commentary track from the main players, such as Ice Cube and Chris Tucker, however, Ice Cube did give a brief 30-second introduction.

Since the movie was released four years ago with a low budget production, I was wary of how well the transfer might turn out. To put my worry asides, New Line uses a new high definition transfer of the film converted from the widescreen version. While the picture does not boast the kind of vibrancy and clarity that we're accustomed to see from transfers of recent films, the pastel colors are well saturated and the images vary from slight softness to very sharp. There're no dot crawls or dirt particles to mar the presentation and digital artifacts barely exist. Blacks and shadow details are, however, only average.

The soundtrack is encoded in Dolby Surround and that's the only disappointment. While the rap musics from the double platinum soundtrack certainly provide for some thumping experiences, the mix does not disperse through a wide soundstage but mostly comes from the center channel. It isn't good when the menu selection has a more dynamic recording than the track on the film. Surrounds are very limited with an occasional panning from the two front speakers. Dialogue is clear and there're no foreign tracks.

For me, Friday remains Chris Tucker's best film yet with an understated performance by Ice Cube to lend an exceptional duo. So pull up a chair alongside with these two guys for a damn good time.

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