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Friday: Platinum Series

After the critical success of such urban dramas as Boyz in the Hood and Menace II Society, it's understandable that rapper/actor Ice Cube wanted to take the edge off the 'hood, and the result was 1995's low-budget Friday, a meandering, essentially plotless comedy about two young men who sit on a front porch one Friday, interacting with the neighborhood residents or simply watching them as they go about their day. Ice Cube plays newly unemployed Craig, an introverted young man who's always trying to keep his buddy Smokey (Chris Tucker) out of trouble. But the Smoke-Dog has really done it this Friday, because he was supposed to sell $300 worth of grass for Big Worm (Faizon Love) but smoked most of it instead. In the meantime, Craig has to steer clear of his loudmouthed girlfriend, who's convinced that he's seeing somebody else. And to add to their problems, lazy-eyed neighborhood bully Deebo (Tom "Tiny" Lister Jr.) keeps harassing them, and anybody else who crosses his path, as he steals stuff from everybody and then dares them to do something about it. While not packed full of laughs, Friday does a good job of eliciting the emotion it simultaneously conveys — bemused bewilderment. A number of characters — from a hypocritical preacher to a temperamental dwarf to a little kid on a bike who keeps knocking over garbage cans — are rushed off the stage almost as soon as they arrive, which keeps things interesting. Ice Cube is effective as the (mostly) stable center of the action, but then again he has to be, since Tucker positively bounces off the walls, always lighting up a blunt and launching into another story, plan, or half-baked scheme. Also starring John Witherspoon, directed by F. Gary Gray (The Negotiator). Good transfer, 2.0 Dolby Surround. Platinum Series extras include a brief introduction by Ice Cube, interviews with Ice Cube, Gray and producer Patricia Charbonnet, seven deleted scenes, music videos, production notes, and a trailer.

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