April 26th marks the 20th anniversary of the theatrical release of the movie “Friday”. The urban comedy starred West Coast rapper Ice Cube, upcoming comedians Chris Tucker & Angela Means, veteran comedians John Witherspoon & the late Bernie Mac featured upcoming stars Nia Long and Faizon Love. And last but not least the young but veteran actress Regina King.
I saw this movie as a college freshman on its opening Friday night April 26, 1995 and I knew then not only was it funny as hell but it was something special. Not to mention I kept seeing that summer as it played in the Park Forest dollar theater. The movie had sp many jokes and you’d miss some, so it took multiple viewings to catch everything, not to mention to this day its still enjoyable to watch and I still laugh like hell at it.
Friday was directed by veteran music video director F. Gary Gray and has a soundtrack of new work by Dr. Dre (Keep They Heads Ringing), as well as classic R&B (Rick James’ “Mary Jane), as well. The story moves along quick but not too fast with an engaging theme of neighborhood characters, one joke after another and constant challenges for the characters.
It literally reminded me of my own West Pullman upbringing with some of my late father’s friends and our neighborhood “people”. In a word it was “believable”, yeah a little stretched here and there but you go to any hood and deal with any block and this could have been it. And yes some days in my old neighborhood it was that funny.
This movie though done on a three million dollar budget grossed almost nine times ($ 29 million), that when it was all said and done. It spawned two sequels (“Next Friday” in 2000, & “Friday After Next” in 2002), and propelled the acting careers of Ice Cube & Chris Tucker into the stratosphere and made bigger stars of every other person I previously mentioned.
Not to mention the movie is still culturally relevant, the whole thing on social media (and talk of young people), in which they say “# Bye Felicia”, stems from this movie. That was comedienne Angela Means character.
When you hear people of my vintage (who were young people 20 years ago), talk about “getting fired on your day off” or refer to a bullying character as “Debo”, those are regferences from this production.
Yes I admit a lot of this movie had marijuana as a punch line and there is drug usage in the movie. But it was more urban and dare I so more polished than the “Cheech & Chong” movies of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.
Trust me I just watched a Cheech & Chong movie earlier this week and man was it not what I remembered. The dialogue was written like someone had been “smoking” and time has not been kind to those films.
Granted Friday is extremely influential to me and a personal favorite but its story still holds it own really well for a 20 year old urban story.
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Filed under: African American History