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NEXT FRIDAY: It’s all about the neighbourhood (2000 In Film #2)

This year, 20 years on from the year 2000, I’m going to celebrate the first year of cinema in the 21st century by looking back at some of the films across the year at the turn of the millennium which took No #1 at the box office for their opening weekends.

This week, I’m looking at Steve Carr’s stoner comedy sequel, Next Friday

All things being equal, you may have imagined Walter Hill’s dark science-fiction thriller Supernova would have ruled the box office in the second week of January 2000 but it ended up a critical and commercial dud, paving the way for the modest success of Steve Carr’s Next Friday – the sequel to a film that struck much more of a chord in the culture of black cinema.

Friday appeared in 1995, the brainchild of successful rapper Ice Cube and his co-writer DJ Pooh, who teamed with director F. Gary Gray (in his debut, long before the heights of The Fate of the Furious) to shoot in a modest 20 days a low-budget comedy which was designed by Cube to emulate the modest, indie stylistics of a Kevin Smith but rather for African-American culture. Friday was a slice of life which transformed Cube from rapper to movie star—within two years he would be headlining Dangerous Ground and starring in the schlocky Anaconda and the critically acclaimed Three Kings a couple of years beyond that—not to mention featuring a raft of stars to come: Chris Tucker, Regina King, Michael Clarke Duncan. It was also a surprise hit, tapping into a sub-genre that Cube astutely realised had not been mined by black performers and filmmakers.

As a result, Next Friday was almost an inevitability but, to paraphrase Hugo Drax in Moonraker, it arrives with the “tediousness of an unloved season”. While outwardly amusing, with plenty of basic scatological and farcical gags to keep punters busy, it is an example of the kind of diminishing sequel returns that the early 2000’s would deliver in spades.

It is, quite simply, a film with absolutely no reason to exist beyond the financial.

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