Next Friday

on January 12, 2000 by Dwayne E. Leslie
   After spending two years behind bars, neighborhood bully Debo (Tommy "Tiny" Lister Jr.) is on a vengeful quest back to the hood. The focus of his fury is Craig (Ice Cube)--the one responsible for Debo's two-year vacation. To escape Debo's wrath, Craig quickly leaves town and moves in with his uncle (Don "DC" Curry) and his spineless wannabe player cousin Day-Day (Mike Epps). However, the foreign surroundings have a familiar stench, and before the day is over Craig and Day-Day will have to deal with the neighbor's dog, ex-girlfriends, extreme working conditions and a family crisis.
   This watered-down sequel to 1995's sleeper hit that set standards and broke video rental records has been reduced to multiple skits woven together with a hyped soundtrack. The film seems to pause for anticipated laughs where the original was laced with unexpected visual and verbal humor and running gags that got funnier as the film progressed. Sorely missed is the original's main star, Chris Tucker (who, following his starmaking turn in 1998's blockbuster hit "Rush Hour," has become a multi-million dollar topliner); the many lulls in the film conjure unanswered questions as to the whereabouts of Tucker's character, Smokey. Mike Epps does an adequate job as Ice Cube's sidekick but doesn't come close to filling Tucker's shoes. Another major hindrance is a script that fails to examine its characters' world, rendering them superficial and stereotypical. Craig's antics soon grow tiresome enough that even the most ardent fans of the rogueish slacker will want him to just go back to his old neighborhood and finally get a job.    Starring Ice Cube, Mike Epps, Justin Pierce, John Witherspoon, Jacob Vargas and Lisa Rodriguez. Directed by Steve Carr. Written and produced by Ice Cube. A New Line release. Comedy. Rated R for strong language, drug use and sexual content. Running time: 98 min.
Tags: Tiny, sequel, African American, marijuana, stoner comedy, Ice Cube, Mike Epps, Justin Pierce, John Witherspoon, Tony Lister Jr., Tiny Lister Jr., Steve Carr

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