Friday (1995 film)
Friday is a 1995 American stoner comedy film directed by F. Gary Gray (in his directorial debut) and written by Ice Cube and DJ Pooh. It stars Cube and Chris Tucker as Craig Jones and Smokey, unemployed best friends who must pay a local drug dealer on the night of Friday. The film is the first installment in the Friday franchise and co-stars Nia Long, Tiny "Zeus" Lister Jr., Regina King, Anna Maria Horsford, Bernie Mac, and John Witherspoon.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||F. Gary Gray|
|Produced by||Patricia Charbonnet|
|Written by||Ice Cube|
|Edited by||John Carter|
|Distributed by||New Line Cinema|
|Box office||$28.2 million|
While developing the film, Ice Cube and DJ Pooh expressed discontent regarding the portrayal of the hood in film, which they came to see as too violent and menacing. As a result, they wished to emphasize the positive aspects of life in the hood, and drew on a number of personal experiences when crafting the characters and plot points. Preparations for the film began after the pair were able to secure funding from New Line Cinema, who granted finance in exchange for a seasoned comedian in one of the lead roles. During casting, Ice Cube and DJ Pooh quickly settled on Tucker.
Friday was theatrically released in the United States on April 26, 1995. It received positive reviews from critics, many of whom praised the comedic sequences, writing, and acting performances. The film was also a commercial success, grossing $28.2 million worldwide. It has subsequently obtained a large cult following, inspiring an Internet meme and several pop-cultural references. The film launched a media franchise that includes the sequels Next Friday (2000) and Friday After Next (2002).
On Friday in South Central Los Angeles, Craig Jones is newly unemployed after being framed for stealing. He hangs out on his front porch with his best friend, Smokey, a snappy, mischievous drug dealer who sells weed for Big Worm, the psychopathic neighborhood supplier.
Throughout the day, Craig and Smokey observe the goings-on in their neighborhood. They encounter Ezal, who supports his drug habit with petty crime; Debbie, an attractive girl Craig has an interest in; Craig's neighbor, Stanley, whose wealth-like supercilious attitude bemuses Craig; Red, Craig's former co-worker and childhood friend whose bike and chain have been stolen, courtesy of Deebo, the neighborhood bully who also enlists Smokey's aid in a burglary of Stanley's house; Clever, the neighborhood pastor, who is caught sleeping with Mrs. Parker by her husband; and Felisha, Debbie's sister and Deebo's girlfriend, who irritates everyone in the neighborhood with her constant begging.
Smokey, who has been smoking rather than selling his consignment of marijuana, has a confrontation with Big Worm. In an attempt to explain his money shortage, Smokey incriminates Craig. Big Worm threatens to kill Craig and Smokey if they do not give him $200 by 10:00 pm. Craig angrily confronts Smokey about his lack of initiative in selling the marijuana before deciding to help Smokey. Craig unsuccessfully attempts to borrow money from his mother Betty; his sister, Dana (who eventually tells their father about the situation at hand); and his insanely jealous girlfriend, Joi. Craig's father, Willie, eventually learns of Craig's plan, as well as the fact that Craig is carrying a gun. Willie talks to him, explaining that Craig should use his fists, instead of guns, to resolve his problems, all the while telling Craig the story of how Willie's brother lost his life due to gun violence.
Later on, while Craig and Smokey discuss their dilemma, they are interrupted by the arrival of Rita, a girl whom Debbie set Smokey up with earlier. Smokey then discovers she lied about her looks. Instead of resembling Janet Jackson as she originally claimed, Rita is obese and bald and, in Smokey's words, "looking more like Freddie Jackson".
Smokey heads to Debbie's house to complain and notices Red's bike on the lawn. He sneaks in and finds Deebo asleep with Felisha. Smokey tries to retrieve the money that he and Deebo stole from Stanley's house earlier, but is interrupted by Ezal. Both escape without the money before Deebo wakes up. Smokey enlists Craig's help to go back and try again, but at that moment, Deebo rides Red's bike past them. The two notice a black car driving slowly and hide, suspecting a possible drive-by shooting. Scared, they run to Craig's room. Then, after Willie confronts them with the situation with Big Worm, and with 10:00 approaching, Craig and Smokey decide to step out. Once outside, they notice a van parked in the middle of the street with its headlights off. The two flee as Big Worm's men start shooting at them.
Meanwhile, the neighbors came out of their houses after hearing the gunshots. Debbie then confronts Deebo for assaulting Felisha, after Deebo falsely accuses Felisha of Smokey's attempted theft. Deebo eventually assaults Debbie, as Craig and Smokey arrive.
Angered that Deebo has assaulted Debbie, Craig stands up to him, and threatens him with his gun. Deebo scoffs at the threat and Willie encourages Craig to put the gun down and fight with his hands. Then, Craig and Deebo fight. After nearly losing, Craig emerges victorious by using various objects as weapons. As Debbie tends to Craig, Smokey steals back the money he was robbed of earlier from a knocked-out Deebo and flees the scene. Red retrieves his stolen chain and bicycle, while Ezal steals Deebo's shoes. Craig and Debbie agree to meet up the following day and Craig breaks up with Joi on the phone.
Later that night, Smokey settles with Big Worm, and ends the feud. He announces that he is giving up drug dealing and going to rehabilitation. After hanging up, Smokey looks up, lights a joint, and says to the audience, "I was just bullshittin'! And you know this, man!"
- Ice Cube as Craig Jones
- Chris Tucker as Smokey
- Nia Long as Debbie
- Tiny Lister Jr. as Deebo
- John Witherspoon as Willie Jones
- Anna Maria Horsford as Betty Jones
- Regina King as Dana Jones
- Paula Jai Parker as Joi
- Bernie Mac as Pastor Clever
- Faizon Love as Big Worm
- DJ Pooh as Red
- Anthony Johnson as Ezal
- Angela Means as Felisha
Prior to Friday's release, movies such as Boyz n the Hood (also starring Ice Cube) and Colors portrayed life in the hood as violent and menacing. Ice Cube felt that these films did not portray the full picture of living in the hood, missing a more lighthearted element, with Cube later saying, "we had fun in the hood. We used to trip off the neighborhood." Therefore, Cube and DJ Pooh decided to create a film that would portray that environment.
The script was only the third Cube had ever written; the previous two were undeveloped. With the film, Ice Cube intended to make a "hood classic", one that could be "[watched] over and over and over again". According to Ice Cube, a majority of the film is autobiographical, with much of it being based on events that occurred in his neighborhood growing up. Smokey was based on DJ Pooh's stint as a drug dealer, while Craig being fired on his day off was based on Ice Cube's cousin, who was working as a driver for United Parcel Service at the time.
Prior to writing, the duo realized their inexperience as filmmakers was unlikely to attract major film studios, and floated the idea of self-financing the film themselves. For a time, the idea of making the film in black and white to save money was considered, before the pair decided on approaching New Line Cinema about producing the film, who had achieved success with the House Party series; a film-type the duo aimed to replicate.
New Line Cinema agreed to finance the production, but requested that the role of Smokey, initially to be played by Pooh, be played by someone with more experience. Cube and Pooh immediately decided on Tucker, after discovering the comic through Def Comedy Jam. However, Tucker's first audition was disastrous, but was granted more time to try again at a later date. Tucker soon contacted Angela Means, aiming to work with her acting coach, but was instead invited to a workshop session over dinner, in order to help him secure the role. According to Means, "by the time that spaghetti was gone, Chris was Smokey."
Cube was granted license to select the film's director, and decided on Gray, who was a music video director. Gray had previously worked with Cube on a number of occasions, and was also aiming to establish a foothold in Hollywood, initially through a short film. Cube instead offered him the role for Friday, as he was attracted to the fact that he and Gray grew up with similar backgrounds, feeling the director would accurately capture the film's aesthetic, and would not have to be coached on any aspect of the film.
Gray said that Ice Cube starring in a comedy "scared the shit out of me," as he doubted whether audiences would buy into Cube portraying a role so different from his public persona. Gray explained, "Ice Cube was the nigga you loved to hate. He was like the toughest man in America, and when you take someone you’re used to delivering on hard-hitting social issues in hardcore gangsta rap, and who has a hardcore point of view on politics, you would never think comedy."
Friday was released on April 26, 1995 in the United States, June 30, 1995 in the United Kingdom, and October 5, 1995 in Australia. The film saw a limited, theatrical re-release in honor of its 20th anniversary on April 20, 2015 for one night only.
The film was released on DVD on March 2, 1999 and Blu-ray on September 8, 2009, with a new director's cut (97 minutes). The single disc DVD contains a theatrical trailer, a featurette on the film, and cast and crew interviews.
Friday received mostly positive reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 78% approval rating, based on 27 reviews, with an average rating of 6.2/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "What Friday might lack in taut construction or directorial flair, it more than makes up with its vibrant (albeit consistently crass) humor and the charming, energetic performances of its leads." Metacritic gives the film a score of 54 out of 100, based on 9 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
The film has obtained a large cult following since its release. A scene in the film is the source of the internet meme Bye, Felicia -- which is a phrase meant to dismiss an inconsequential person. Former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison is nicknamed Deebo in reference to the character from the film.
Friday grossed $6,589,341 on its opening weekend debuting at #2 in the box office in 865 theaters, averaging $7,617 per theater. The film grossed $27,467,564 in North America and $748,354 internationally, with a total of $28,215,918 worldwide.
The film also inspired an animated series, titled Friday: The Animated Series, which aired in 2007.
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