Friday After Next is the third film in New Line’s comedy franchise, with a title that begs the question: What would the studio name the fourth one? Two Fridays Since the Last One? The series might run out of titles, but with each passing installment, it also runs out of a bit more gas.
The original Friday soared on the lunatic wings of Chris Tucker’s manic supporting performance as Smokey. Next Friday suffered greatly from that character’s absence. Friday After Next feels like a completely disconnected movie with only a handful of truly inspired laughs sandwiched between long stretches of nothing much.
Craig (Ice Cube, also the film’s screenwriter and producer) and his cousin Day Day (Mike Epps) hope to do well at their new jobs as mini-mall security guards. After all, a man in a Santa suit just robbed them of their rent money. But in their first day on the job, they must deal with, among others, an unhygienic donut-store owner and an angry ex-convict who’s also a sexual predator while trying to track down the thieving St. Nick.
Although his screenwriting needs work, Cube again showcases his talent as a comedic straight man. Epps is occasionally funny; a scene when he exerts his security-guard “power” and mistakes carolers for prostitutes is the film’s best. But he still is a poor substitute for Tucker. And John Witherspoon, as Craig’s father, is given little to do than twitch his face and stutter — a far cry from his memorable turns in the past Friday films.
Perhaps the main problem with Friday After Next is that everything is too manic to be memorable. Cube’s attempt at a madcap, physical-comedy finale is admirable, but almost too quick and wild to let the laughs sink in.
Ultimately, we get some good throwaway gags (store names such as Toys in the Hood and the 94 Cent Bargain Store) and some characters worth a couple chuckles (pimp Money Mike and the ex-con Damon). But nothing suggests this Friday is anything more than just an ordinary day.