The hilarious, rowdy "Friday After Next" finds its writer and co-producer Ice Cube returning as Craig, the likable if not overly responsible hero of its predecessors, "Friday" (1995), which helped launch Chris Tucker, and "Next Friday" (2000), which introduced a new sidekick, Day-Day (Mike Epps), Craig's headstrong cousin.
Fast and raunchy, "Friday After Next" surely stands apart from other holiday-themed movies for its gleeful low-down humor and a raft of uninhibited characters involved in one outrageous predicament after another.
It's the night before Christmas Eve in South-Central L.A. and, sure enough, the Santa Claus Robber hits Craig and Day-Day's apartment in the seedy Shady Palms, a classic Atomic Age structure. Along with their CDs, Santa makes off with a speaker containing their rent money. Their landlady, Ms. Pearly (BeBe Drake), for whom the description no-nonsense is woefully inadequate, was already about to evict them, and now her son Damon (Terry Crews), fresh out of the pen after spending 12 years lifting weights, is on hand to back her up.
The guys scare up security jobs at a nearby strip mall, where Craig's father, Willie (John Witherspoon), and Day-Day's father, Elroy (Don "D.C." Curry), have just opened a barbecue joint. Although armed with only a police-style whistle, Day-Day goes power-mad, seeing himself as "a top-flight security officer," setting off a domino effect of disasters and shenanigans that carry on to Christmas Eve, the deadline for the cousins to come up with their rent money.
The constant flow of calamities spotlights a lot of talented and funny people under music video veteran Marcus Raboy's buoyant, good-natured direction. Among them: Anna Maria Horsford as Willie's swiftly jealous wife; K.D. Aubert as Donna, the gorgeous saleswoman at a mall shop run by a diminutive but classically flashy pimp (Katt Williams); and Maz Jobrani as the cousins' excitable employer (and proprietor of the mall's doughnut shop, the Holy Moly).
Production designer Amy B. Ancona's choice of authentically gritty locales and vivid interiors and Dana Campbell's exuberant costumes, plus a zesty soundtrack, contribute strongly to bringing "Friday After Next" alive.
'Friday After Next'
MPAA rating: R, for language, sexual content and drug use
Times guidelines: Sex and drugs minimal, but the language extremely blunt.
Ice Cube ... Craig
Mike Epps ... Day-Day
John Witherspoon ... Willie Jones
Don "DC" Curry ... Uncle Elroy
Anna Maria Horsford ... Mrs. Jones
A New Line Cinema presentation of a Cube Vision production. Director Marcus Raboy. Producers Ice Cube, Matt Alvarez. Executive producers Toby Emmerich, Matt Moore, Douglas Curtis. Screenplay Ice Cube; based on characters created by Ice Cube and DJ Pooh. Cinematographer Glen MacPherson. Editor Suzanne Hines. Music John Murphy. Music supervisor Spring Aspers. Costumes Dana Campbell. Production designer Amy B. Ancona. Art director Colin De Rouin. Set designers Chad S. Frey, William H. Taliaferro. Running time: 1 hour, 25 minutes.
In general release.