A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie is a drug- and profanity-filled cult classic written by and starring the rapper Ice Cube; it's likely that most teens will have heard of it and will be interested in seeing it. One major character is a comical pot dealer who smokes his own inventory all day; this leads to a shootout, but an even more prominent scene is the brutal, climactic fist-fight between Cube and the block's mountain-sized bully. The movie has been accused of misogyny, and not without reason; the women are mostly either sexual objects or objects of scornful humor. It is also filled with sex talk, drug talk, and non-stop profanity, as well as insults of a racial and sexual nature. However, aside from all this, Friday is genuinely interesting in many ways, and is more culturally and historically notable than it may appear. It spawned two sequels and an animated TV series.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
It's Friday in the 'hood. Craig (Ice Cube) has just lost his job (on his day off) and now has nothing to do but hang out with his friend, a comical drug dealer named "Smokey" (Chris Tucker). As the day passes, they gossip about the kooky neighbors, avoid the block bully Deebo ("Tiny" Lister), and smoke a little pot. Eventually, they must come up with $200 to pay back Smokey's boss, or else face his retribution. Meanwhile, Craig has developed a little crush on Debbie (Nia Long) and finds he must stand up to Deebo to protect her honor. Can Craig learn how to be a "man" without resorting to using the gun he has hidden in his room?
Is it any good?
Directed by F. Gary Gray (The Italian Job), FRIDAY is fairly unique in the history of African-American cinema. Though it depends partly on the usual toilet humor, it does not have the same hyped-up, eager-to-please vibe of most other comedies. It's uncharacteristically laid-back with a refreshing lack of plot mechanics. This, plus the one-day, one-neighborhood setting, allows the characters to flourish in a more organic way. In a way, it's almost on a level with such classics as Charles Burnett's Killer of Sheep (1977) and Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing (1989).
That said, the movie also comes with a troublesome air of misogyny; most of the women characters are seen either as sexual objects or objects of scornful humor. It's also not particularly laugh-out-loud funny, as most of the humor is at the expense of other characters. In general, the overall behavior of the people in this neighborhood is not so great, but there are still glimpses of goodness that make it appealing and worthwhile for older teens.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the drugs in the characters' lives. Did Craig learn his lesson after he smoked pot? Should he have given in when he didn't want to? Does Smokey learn any lesson about his drug use?
How did the film's violence make you feel? Was it thrilling, or did it have a harsher effect?
How did you feel about the women in the film? Did any of them seem like strong people, or were they stereotypes?
- In theaters: April 26, 1995
- On DVD or streaming: March 2, 1999
- Cast: Chris Tucker, Ice Cube, Nia Long
- Director: F. Gary Gray
- Studio: New Line
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 91 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: pervasive strong language and drug use, and for a brutal fight
- Last updated: February 24, 2021
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