After a series of gritty cinematic statements like New Jack City, Juice and Above the Rim, by the mid-90’s a shift was underway. As Hip Hop slowly began to inch away from what the media had once dubbed “Gangster Rap” in favor of a somewhat lighter tone, films began to go through the same metamorphosis. While Hollywood had notoriously benefited from dramatic tales from the hood, in 1995 former NWA member turned actor Ice Cube brought together an insanely talented cast (that he reportedly paid for himself) in order to birth Friday, instantly rising the ranks from hood classic to commercial success.
In a recent interview with BuzzFeed Cube explained what he set out to do, “People thought how we grew up was like growing up in a war zone. After movies like Boyz n the Hood, Menace II Society, and South Central came out, everybody thought the way we grew up was the worst thing ever in life. I didn’t see it that way. Of course it was rough, but we had fun with everything. We tried to laugh at things that most people would cry at.” He added, “We knew Hollywood had never seen this kind of comedy. I was like, ‘Yo, I don’t want to go in there and have all these people try to explain what this is. I’d rather just go do it.’”
From John Whiterspoon to the late Bernie Mac, the film packed a powerful dose of comedic talent as it followed a day in the life of Cube’s character “Craig.” We watch as he navigates through a series of events that includes getting fired on his day off (inserts crying emoji,) finally getting the girl of his dreams (played by the always impressive Nia Long) to taking on the neighborhood bully “Deebo” (immortalized by 6’5 actor and former wrestler Tommy “Tiny” Lister Jr.)
Providing the missing piece to the puzzle was a then 22-year old Chris Tucker. Before he rose to international fame in films like The Fifth Element or the Rush Hour series he was “Smokey,” a character so hilariously unique that even after 20 years and two sequels has still left fans begging for another dose of “Cuz it’s Friday, you ain’t got no job and you ain’t got shit to do.”
It’s the film that spawned dozens of catchphrases including “You got knocked the fuck out” and the (you know it’s popular when mainstream America finds it) “Bye Felecia.” Friday proved that there was more to urban life besides drug and gun violence, standing apart for its depiction of a (not so simple) day in Southern California. Underneath the weed references and general playfulness is a film about life in their community and the bond between a father and son. Ice Cube made a project exactly how he wanted to and it worked, proving to Hollywood that sometimes David beats Goliath. Perhaps Pops said it best, “You win some, you lose some. But you live, you live to see another day.”
With April 26 marking the 20 year anniversary of its release, the film will be released in a select number of theaters; giving a new generation the chance to discover a gem.
Take a look at the official trailer below: